Patrick Strutzenberger

PDF der Diplomarbeit im Hochschulschriften-Service der Universität Wien

DNA barcoding and molecular phylogeny of Eois moths (Geometridae) from southern Ecuador

The genus Eois (Larentiinae) comprises an important part of a megadiverse assemblage of geometrid moths in the mountain rainforests of southern Ecuador. Owing to the diversity of morphotypes found in this genus, the abundance of many of its component species, and the close relationships with larval food plants in the genus Piper, the genus Eois was chosen as a target for more detailed investigation on the suitability of DNA barcode applications and phylogenetic relationships. COI barcode sequences (676 bp) were generated from 342 individuals to establish an inventory of DNA barcodes from one study area (Reserva Biológica San Francisco). This inventory can be used to match larvae to known adult samples without rearing, and will therefore be of vital help to extend the currently very limited knowledge about food plant relationships and host specialization. Analyses of barcoding sequence divergence showed that species delimitations based on external morphology alone result in broad overlap of intra- and interspecific distances. Species delimitation at a 3% pairwise genetic distance threshold eliminated all but 3 out of 9 cases causing overlap and delimitation at a 2% threshold resulted in a clear barcoding gap. 30 previously unrecognized species were identified solely on morphological evidence, and their species status was subsequently supported by barcode sequence data. In addition to that 9 putative species could be recognized by threshold based delimitation. Hence, the present study increased the number of Eois species recorded from that small area of Andean mountain forests from 99 to 129 (morphology-based) or even 138 (sequence-based). Notably there are no cases where two or more previously known morphospecies had to be lumped. We acquired elongation factor 1-alpha sequences and extended COI sequences of 102 individuals amounting to a combined sequence dataset of ~2200 bp. These represented at least 70 Eois species plus a range of outgroup taxa. Maximum parsimony and Bayesian inference of phylogeny were employed to estimate relationships within Eois. Monophyly of Eois was always strongly supported. Phylogenetic trees revealed that all included wingpattern types except for one evolved only once. The exception to this rule occurred in the most basal clade whose species closely resemble those in a clade higher up in the tree. This may represent an ancestral character state or the result of convergent evolution. Additionally it could be determined that species known to feed on Piper are spread over most of the major clades within Eois, indicating that the host plant relationship with Piper is indeed a widespread trait among the Neotropical members of the genus and not just occurs in certain subclades. The number of species and individuals recorded from Piper is however skewed towards two subclades. Within the subfamily Larentiinae the genus Eois has traditionally been placed close to the tribe Eupitheciini, but there is presently no support for such a placement in our phylogenetic analyses.


Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (FOR 816, Fi 547/10-1) as part of the research unit “Biodiversity and sustainable Management of a megadiverse Mountain Ecosystem in southern Ecuador


For further information on the Eois species of Ecuador see Dr. Gunnar Brehm

Selected Publications

  • K. FIEDLER, P. STRUTZENBERGER (2013), Past Dynamics of Speciation in Andean Mountain Rainforsts, Pp. 67-79 in: Bendix, J., Beck. E., Bräuning, A., Makeschin, F., Mosandl, R., Scheu, S. & Wilcke, W. (eds.), Ecosystem services, biodiversity and environmental change in a tropical mountain ecosystem of South Ecuador. Ecol. Studies 221, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-38137-9_6. Link to article

  • BREHM, G., STRUTZENBERGER, P., & FIEDLER, K. (2013): Phylogenetic diversity of geometrid moths decreases with elevation in the tropical Andes. Ecography 36. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2013.00030.x Link to article

  • P. STRUTZENBERGER, G. BREHM & K. FIEDLER, K. (2012): DNA barcode sequencing from old type specimens as a tool in taxonomy: A case study in the diverse genus Eois (Lepidoptera: Geometridae), PloS One 7 (11): e49710 (pp. 1-7). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049710. Link to article

  • F. BODNER, P. STRUTZENBERGER, G. BREHM, K. FIEDLER (2012): Species Richness and Host Specificity among Caterpillar Ensembles on Shrubs in the Andes of Southern Ecuador, Neotrop Entomol 41:375–385. Link to article