Molecular Phylogeny and Biogeography of a highly diverse genus of Andean butterflies
" ... On these expanded membranes nature writes, as on a tablet, the story of the modifications of species.." H. W. Bates
The genus Catastica Butler 1870, is one of the largest evolutionary radiations of butterflies, restricted to the Neotropical region and especially to the tropical Andes between 500 - 3900m altitude, currently more than 98 species and 255 subspecies are recognized, and despite the fact that they have been the subject of research in recent decades new taxa are described (Bollino & Padron 2016).
Many species have very restricted elevational ranges and in some cases are known from only one place, its host plants are limited to species of the family Loranthacea. Finally, its taxonomy, phylogenetic hypothesis and its true diversity are not clear. These characteristics make Catasticta one of the most interesting butterfly genera in the Neotropics.
In our research we are using nuclear and mitochondrial gene sequences (COI, EFα1, CAD and GAPDH), to propose the first and most complete phylogenetic hypothesis for this genus. With this new information we hope to solve many of the current taxonomic problems. In addition, using information from fossils and host plants, we will calibrate this phylogenetic tree to answer questions about its evolution, for example when, where and how the most important processes of speciation occurred.
Finally, we have a georeferenced database based on the review of more than 60,000 specimens from the most important collections in the world and field data of more than 20 years, with this information and the use of GIS we will evaluate the distribution patterns of its species, evaluating the dominant geographic speciation mode and we will examine what are the limiting factors of the distribution of its species, identifying historical and contemporary determinants of richness in this genus.
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2 Bollino, M. & Padrón, P.S. 2016. Description of a new subspecies of Catasticta fulva Joicey & Rosenberg, 1915, with notes on several other species in the genus (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Tropical Lepidoptera Research. 26(1) 1-5.
1 Padrón, P.S. 2014. Molecular Phylogeny and Biogeography of the genus Catasticta Butler, 1870. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.