Angelina Kreuzinger


Tracing the radiation of Maniola (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae) butterflies.

Maniola butterflies show a peculiar distribution: Maniola jurtina, the most widely distributed species of this genus, can be found all over Europe, whereas the other six described species are restricted to the Mediterranean area - among them three species are island endemics on Sardinia, Cyprus and Chios, respectively. The species are almost indistinguishable morphologically and hybridization seems to occur occasionally. To clarify species boundaries and diversification history of the genus, I performed a phylogeographical study. I reconstructed the phylogeny with help of the genetic markers COI, CytB, Elongation factor 1α and wingless, analysed variation in mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, estimated divergence times, compared possible migration routes and inferred demographic developments from genetic models. The topology of the recovered phylogenetic tree is not consistent with accepted taxonomy, but rather reveals several haplotype clades that are incongruent with nominal species boundaries. This represents a rare case where several taxa earlier described by means of morphological traits become merged into fewer species (or even a single one). Usually more (cryptic) species are uncovered with genetic methods than have been taxonomically described using morphological characters. Instead of seven species, I recognized two major lineages which could have formed during an out-of-Africa scenario: one part of the Maniola genus migrating over the Strait of Gibraltar and the Iberian Peninsula to the west of Europe, and the other part wandering eastwards through Asia Minor and over the Bosporus into eastern Europe. Genetic diversity proved to be surprisingly high, even in island species. Furthermore, molecular data suggest that Maniola is a very young taxon (about 0.6 to 0.9 Mya old).

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