19 May, 2022

A comprehensive study of the phylogenetic relationships within the family Buthidae


The family Buthidae is the largest scorpion family with many and diverse species occuping many different habitats and ecosystems. This is also an important family as most species of medical importance are found herein. 

The intra-familial classification of the taxa within this family is far from resolved, and is primarly based on a system distinguishing six morpho-groups. The validity of these morpho-groups is unclear and has not been tested with phylogenetic analysis.

Jana Stundlova and co-workers have now published a study where they have attempted to conduct a phylogenetic relationships among Buthidae and assess the validity of morphology-based groupings. They confirm that the traditionally recognized Buthus and Tityus morpho-groups form well supported clades, but the remaining four morpho-groups (Ananteris, Charmus, Isometrus, Uroplectes) do not.

The authors also conclude that some genera in Buthidae need a taxonomic revision and that it is also necessary to evaluate the characters used for taxonomic studies in this family.

The family Buthidae represents an early-diverging and most species-rich lineage of extant scorpions, but its internal phylogenetic relationships are still poorly understood. The family is traditionally divided into six morpho-groups; however, the monophyly of some of them remains unclear. We combined multilocus sequence data with extensive taxon sampling to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships among Buthidae and assess the validity of the morphology-based groupings. We recovered a monophyletic Buthus group as a sister clade to all the remaining Buthidae. We also found support for the monophyly of the Tityus group, but the remaining morpho-groups were recovered as para-/polyphyletic. Our results also suggest that some genera are in need of a taxonomic revision.

Štundlová J, Šťáhlavský F, Opatova V, Stundl J, Kovařík F, Dolejš P, et al. Molecular data do not support the traditional morphology-based groupings in the scorpion family Buthidae (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2022:107511. [Subscription required for full text]

Family Buthidae

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