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The phylogenetic history of the old world butterfly subtribe Mycalesina extended: the Mycalesis (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) of Sri Lanka
journal contributionposted on 2019-03-01, 00:00 authored by K Goonesekera, Patricia LeePatricia Lee, G V D Poorten, G R Ranawaka
Sri Lanka, together with the Western Ghats, is one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, yet little is known about the genetic diversity of the butterflies here. Within the framework of the recently reconstructed molecular phylogeny for the subtribe Mycalesina, we determined the phylogenetic relationships and biogeographic history of the five species of Mycalesis butterflies that are found in Sri Lanka. Sequences of Elongation Factor 1-α (EF1-α), Wingless (Wgl) and the barcode region of the Cytochrome c Oxidase sub unit 1 (COI) were used to confirm the identity of species, to resolve taxonomic queries and to infer the phylogenetic history of the group. Time-calibrated analysis of genetic data suggests that the Mycalesis species that occur in Sri Lanka diverged in the Miocene (5–23 million years ago). The results of phylogenetic analyses confirmed the following; the endemicity of Mycalesis rama to Sri Lanka; the subspecies classification of M. perseus typhlus and, the close sister relationship of the Sri Lankan M. patnia patnia to M. p. junonia of India. However, whether or not M. subdita of Sri Lanka and India are genetically similar remains unknown. Lastly, genetic evidence emerged suggesting that M. mineus forms a cryptic species complex in the Oriental region, and that in Sri Lanka, there may be occasional hybridization between M. mineus and M. perseus. As a case study of island colonization and diversification by the Mycalesis species, this study further extends our understanding of the Old World butterfly subtribe of Mycalesina.