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.



B. Huertas, C. Prieto, F. Montero, M. Adams, J.F.F. Le Crom, M. Bollino, Y. Correa-Carmona & P.S. Padrón. One Hundred Years of Solitude: rediscovery of Catasticta lycurgus (Godman & Salvin, 1880),a yellow butterfly from Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia (Lepidoptera: Pieridae).Zootaxa Zootaxa 4975(1):176-186.

4 Nakahara, S. Macdonald, J.R., Delgado, F. & Padrón, P.S. Discovery of a rare and striking new pierid butterfly from Panama (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Zootaxa.

3 Dufour P.C., Willmott K.W., Padron P.S., Xing S., Bonebrake T.C., and Scheffers B.R. 2018. Divergent melanism strategies in Andean butterfly communities structure diversity patterns and climate responses. Journal of Biogeography.

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.