Biogeographic history of the butterfly subtribe euptychiina (lepidoptera, nymphalidae, Satyrinae)

Carlos Peña, Sören Nylin, André V.L. Freitas, Niklas Wahlberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


The diverse butterfly subtribe Euptychiina was thought to be restricted to the Americas. However, there is mounting evidence for the Oriental Palaeonympha opalina being part of Euptychiina and thus a disjunct distribution between it (in eastern Asia) and its sister taxon (in eastern North America). Such a disjunct distribution in both eastern Asia and eastern North America has never been reported for any butterfly taxon. We used 4447 bp of DNA sequences from one mitochondrial gene and four nuclear genes for 102 Euptychiina taxa to obtain a phylogenetic hypothesis of the subtribe, estimate dates of origin and diversification for major clades and perform a biogeographic analysis. Euptychiina originated 31 Ma in South America. Early Euptychiina dispersed from North to South America via the temporary connection known as GAARlandia during Eocene-Oligocene times. The current disjunct distribution of the Oriental Palaeonympha opalina is the result of a northbound dispersal of a lineage from South America into eastern Asia via North America. The common ancestor of Palaeonympha and its sister taxon Megisto inhabited the continuous forest belt across North Asia and North America, which was connected by Beringia. The closure of this connection caused the split between Palaeonympha and Megisto around 13 Ma and the severe extinctions in western North America because of the climatic changes of the Late Miocene (from 13.5 Ma onwards) resulted in the classic 'eastern Asia and eastern North America' disjunct distribution.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)243-258
Number of pages16
JournalZoologica Scripta
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2010


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