Phylogenetics of Coenonymphina (Nymphalidae: Satyrinae) and the problem of rooting rapid radiations

Ullasa Kodandaramaiah, Carlos Peña, Michael F. Braby, Roger Grund, Chris J. Müller, Sören Nylin, Niklas Wahlberg

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27 Scopus citations


We report a rapid radiation of a group of butterflies within the family Nymphalidae and examine some aspects of popular analytical methods in dealing with rapid radiations. We attempted to infer the phylogeny of butterflies belonging to the subtribe Coenonymphina sensu lato using five genes (4398 bp) with Maximum Parsimony, Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian analyses. Initial analyses suggested that the group has undergone rapid speciation within Australasia. We further analyzed the dataset with different outgroup combinations the choice of which had a profound effect on relationships within the ingroup. Modelling methods recovered Coenonymphina as a monophyletic group to the exclusion of Zipaetis and Orsotriaena, irrespective of outgroup combination. Maximum Parsimony occasionally returned a polyphyletic Coenonymphina, with Argyronympha grouping with outgroups, but this was strongly dependent on the outgroups used. We analyzed the ingroup without any outgroups and found that the relationships inferred among taxa were different from those inferred when either of the outgroup combinations was used, and this was true for all methods. We also tested whether a hard polytomy is a better hypothesis to explain our dataset, but could not find conclusive evidence. We therefore conclude that the major lineages within Coenonymphina form a near-hard polytomy with regard to each other. The study highlights the importance of testing different outgroups rather than using results from a single outgroup combination of a few taxa, particularly in difficult cases where basal nodes appear to receive low support. We provide a revised classification of Coenonymphina; Zipaetis and Orsotriaena are transferred to the tribe Eritina.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)386-394
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2010


  • Coenonymphina
  • Hypocystina
  • Outgroup rooting
  • Outgroup selection
  • Rapid radiation


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