TitleComparative molecular species delimitation in the charismatic Nawab butterflies (Nymphalidae, Charaxinae, Polyura).
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsToussaint EFA, Morinière J, Müller CJ, Kunte K, Turlin B, Axel Hausmann, Balke M
JournalMol Phylogenet Evol
Date Published2015 Oct

The charismatic tropical Polyura Nawab butterflies are distributed across twelve biodiversity hotspots in the Indomalayan/Australasian archipelago. In this study, we tested an array of species delimitation methods and compared the results to existing morphology-based taxonomy. We sequenced two mitochondrial and two nuclear gene fragments to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships within Polyura using both Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood. Based on this phylogenetic framework, we used the recently introduced bGMYC, BPP and PTP methods to investigate species boundaries. Based on our results, we describe two new species Polyura paulettae Toussaint sp. n. and Polyura smilesi Toussaint sp. n., propose one synonym, and five populations are raised to species status. Most of the newly recognized species are single-island endemics likely resulting from the recent highly complex geological history of the Indomalayan-Australasian archipelago. Surprisingly, we also find two newly recognized species in the Indomalayan region where additional biotic or abiotic factors have fostered speciation. Species delimitation methods were largely congruent and succeeded to cross-validate most extant morphological species. PTP and BPP seem to yield more consistent and robust estimations of species boundaries with respect to morphological characters while bGMYC delivered contrasting results depending on the different gene trees considered. Our findings demonstrate the efficiency of comparative approaches using molecular species delimitation methods on empirical data. They also pave the way for the investigation of less well-known groups to unveil patterns of species richness and catalogue Earth's concealed, therefore unappreciated diversity.

Alternate JournalMol. Phylogenet. Evol.
PubMed ID26021440