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specimens barcoded:  20832
 
species barcoded:  1281
 
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clusters found: 
312
 
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Sphingidae
 
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Welcome to the Sphingidae campaign of the Lepidoptera Barcode of Life.

Members of the family Sphingidae, also known as hawkmoths, definitely rank as charismatic megafauna. They are large (2-20 cm wingspans), strikingly sleek in appearance, and they are major pollinators of flowers. Mostly nocturnal, their feeding behavior is very noticeable as they quickly pass from one flower to the other, hovering in front of them as a hummingbird would do to insert their long tongues seeking for nectar.

Sphingid taxonomy is well developed. Nearly 1400 valid species have been described and a comprehensive well-researched checklist was recently published (Kitching and Cadiou 2000). Although there is no morphology-based phylogeny available to date for the whole family, the relationships between subfamilies, tribes and about half the 202 recognized genera were recently assessed from the analysis of 5 nuclear genes (Kawahara et al. 2009), bringing new light to the higher classification of these moths.

Although sphingids occur on all continents, their diversity peaks in South America and Africa. The lab-pet Manduca sexta is a worldwide used model for genetic or physiological studies; its mitochondrial genome was recently sequenced. The larva of this species the Tobacco hornworm and of a number of other sphingid species can be major pest of cultivated plants and cause serious damages to cultures. Only a handful of species have been listed so far as being at risk of extinction, but among the many endemic species in the family there is no doubt that several are currently at high risk of extinction because of the destruction and fragmentation of their habitats.

The global DNA barcoding campaign for the world fauna of Sphingidae was initiated in August 2006 as one of the first global campaigns in Lepidoptera. Most of the world experts for that family are involved and have provided samples and taxonomic expertise toward the goal of assembling a comprehensive reference library. Crystallizing and diffusing that expertise around the globe, this effort will enable reliable species identification of any species, anywhere, at any stage of its development. The campaign is very advanced already, but sampling remains incomplete for certain areas or certain groups within the family. Moreover, the massive amount of newly generated genetic data represents an invaluable source of information that complements other sets of characters, making it possible to address many existing taxonomic questions, synonymies, and revealing many new cases of overlooked or cryptic diversity.

iBOL Overview
 
The International Barcode of Life project (iBOL) is the largest biodiversity genomics initiative ever undertaken. Work over the past five years has produced DNA barcode records for more than 50,000 species and laid the groundwork for the official launch of iBOL in July 2010. More than 25 countries are involved and major commitments have been made toward the Phase 1 operating budget of $150 million.

By 2015, consortium members will have entered DNA barcode records from 5 million specimens representing 500,000 species into the interactive Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD), creating the foundation for a subsequent push towards a DNA barcode reference library for all of Earth’s eukaryotes.

iBOL is a not-for-profit organization overseen by an international board of directors representing funding organizations. The iBOL Secretariat is housed by the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario at the University of Guelph.

iBOL
 

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