Monday, February 5, 2018

[Entomology • 2018] Molecular Systematics of the Subfamily Limenitidinae (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)

  Subfamily Limenitidinae

 Examples of butterflies; 
Parthenos sylviaCymothoe caenisEuriphene tademaEuphaedra herbertiPseudacraea poggeiLebadea marthaNeptis idaLimenitis reducta and Adelpha californica

in Dhungel & Wahlberg,. 2018.

 We studied the systematics of the subfamily Limenitidinae (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) using molecular methods to reconstruct a robust phylogenetic hypothesis. The molecular data matrix comprised 205 Limenitidinae species, four outgroups, and 11,327 aligned nucleotide sites using up to 18 genes per species of which seven genes (CycY, Exp1, Nex9, PolII, ProSup, PSb and UDPG6DH) have not previously been used in phylogenetic studies. We recovered the monophyly of the subfamily Limenitidinae and seven higher clades corresponding to four traditional tribes Parthenini, Adoliadini, Neptini, Limenitidini as well as three additional independent lineages. [CymothoiniPseudoneptini and Pseudacraeini] One contains the genera Harma Cymothoe and likely a third, Bhagadatta, and the other two independent lineages lead to Pseudoneptis and to Pseudacraea. These independent lineages are circumscribed as new tribes. Parthenini was recovered as sister to rest of Limenitidinae, but the relationships of the remaining six lineages were ambiguous. A number of genera were found to be non-monophyletic, with Pantoporia, Euthalia, Athyma, and Parasarpa being polyphyletic, whereas Limenitis, Neptis, Bebearia, Euryphura, and Adelpha were paraphyletic.

Figure 1: The Maximum Likelihood topology for Limenitidinae with associated bootstrap values. Major lineages that are considered tribes in this paper are coloured.
Examples of butterflies (voucher specimens for this work) from top: Parthenos sylviaCymothoe caenisEuriphene tademaEuphaedra herbertiPseudacraea poggeiLebadea marthaNeptis idaLimenitis reducta and Adelpha californica.

This study presents the most comprehensive phylogenetic analysis to date for the “trash-can” subfamily Limenitidinae. Based on fragments of up to 18 genes per species, 205 species and four outgroups, our results recovered Limenitidinae as a monophyletic clade and which comprises seven major lineages that deserve tribal status. Four tribes have been traditionally recognized: Parthenini, Neptini, Adoliadini, and Limenitidini, while three lineages are placed in new tribes here: Cymothoini, Pseudoneptini and Pseudacraeini. The new Cymothoini tribe includes two African genera Cymothoe and Harma, and quite likely an Asian genus Baghadatta. The latter two new tribes are monogeneric. At the genus level, we found several traditionally recognized genera to be either poly- or paraphyletic, i.e., Neptis, Euryphura, Pantoporia, Athyma, Parasarpa, Limenitis, and Adelpha. Further work increasing the taxon sampling is necessary to test the monophyly of these genera and revise their limits.

Bidur Dhungel and Niklas Wahlberg​. 2018. Molecular Systematics of the Subfamily Limenitidinae (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae).    PeerJ. 6:e4311.  DOI: 10.7717/peerj.4311