Thursday, November 30, 2017

[Entomology • 2017] Polommatus (Agrodiaetus) australorossicus • A New Butterfly Species from south Russia revealed through Chromosomal and Molecular Analysis of the Polyommatus (Agrodiaetus) damonides complex (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae)

[upper] Polommatus (Agrodiaetus) australorossicus 
Lukhtanov & Dantchenko, 2017

[lower] Polyommatus  (A.)  shamil (Dantchenko, 2000)

Finding a new species is a rare event in easy-to-see and well-studied organisms like butterflies, especially if they inhabit well-explored areas such as the Western Palaearctic. However, even in this region, gaps in taxonomic knowledge still exist and here we report such a discovery. Using a combined analysis of chromosomal and molecular markers we demonstrate that Polyommatus blue populations from Daghestan (South Russia), previously identified as P. aserbeidschanus, represent in fact a new species which is described here as P. australorossicus sp. n. We also show that the enigmatic Polyommatus damonides described as a form of Polyommatus damone and later considered as an entity similar to P. poseidon or P. ninae is conspecific with a taxon previously known as P. elbursicus. As a result of our study, we propose several taxonomic changes within the P. damonides species complex and suggest the following new combinations: P. damonides elbursicus Forster, 1956, comb. n. and P. damonides gilanensis Eckweiler, 2002, comb. n.

Keywords: Ancestral polymorphism, biodiversity, chromosomes, chromosomal fusion/fission, COI, cryptic species, DNA barcoding, incomplete lineage sorting, inverted meiosis, karyosystematics, molecular phylogenetics, mitochondrial introgression, phylogeography, speciation

Figure 9. Specimens of Polyommatus (Agrodiaetus) australorossicus sp. n. and P. (A.) shamil. Both samples collected in Gunib (Russia, Caucasus, Daghestan, Gimrinsky Range, 1600-1800 m), 14 August 1997, by A. Dantchenko.
 a, b upperside (a) and underside (b) of the holotype of Polyommatus (Agrodiaetus) australorossicus sp. n. DK-27-97, n=23; arrow indicates basal black spot
c, d upperside (c) and underside (b) of the paratype of Polyommatus (Agrodiaetus) shamil, CCDB-17947_B11, DK-97-18, n=17, 2n=34. Bar = 10 mm. 

Polommatus (Agrodiaetusaustralorossicus sp. n.

Diagnosis: Phenotypically P. (A.) australorossicus sp. n. is practically indistinguishable from allopatric closely related P. ninae, P. aserbeidschanus and P. lukhtanovi but the ground colour of the underside of the hindwings is grey in the new species, with ocherous tint, not light or dark brown. The new species differs from sympatric (syntopic and synchronous) P. shamil (Fig. 9c, d) by specific structure of costal area of the forewings in males (Fig. 10). The submarginal row of spots on the forewing underside is more blurred (Fig. 9b), not sharp and clear visible as in P. shamil (Fig. 9d). Additionally, basal black spots are usually present on the underside of the forewings in P. (A.) australorossicus (Fig. 9b); however, this character is not constant.

Habitat and biology: Stony steppe and dry meadows from 1500 up to 2000 m a.s.l. Flight period: mid-July to end of August, in a single generation. The new species flights syntopically and synchronously with P. shamil but on average about one decade earlier. Host plant is preliminary determined as Astragalus buschiorum (Fabaceae). Hibernation as first instar larvae.

 Vladimir A. Lukhtanov and Alexander V. Dantchenko. 2017. A New Butterfly Species from south Russia revealed through Chromosomal and Molecular Analysis of the Polyommatus (Agrodiaetus) damonides complex (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae). Comparative Cytogenetics. 11(4); 769-795.  DOI:  10.3897/CompCytogen.v11i4.20072
New butterfly species discovered in Russia with an unusual set of 46 chromosomes

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