The radiation of Satyrini butterflies (Nymphalidae: Satyrinae): A challenge for phylogenetic methods

Carlos Peña, Sören Nylin, Niklas Wahlberg

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69 Scopus citations


We have inferred the most comprehensive phylogenetic hypothesis to date of butterflies in the tribe Satyrini. In order to obtain a hypothesis of relationships, we used maximum parsimony and model-based methods with 4435 bp of DNA sequences from mitochondrial and nuclear genes for 179 taxa (130 genera and eight out-groups). We estimated dates of origin and diversification for major clades, and performed a biogeographic analysis using a dispersal-vicariance framework, in order to infer a scenario of the biogeographical history of the group. We found long-branch taxa that affected the accuracy of all three methods. Moreover, different methods produced incongruent phylogenies. We found that Satyrini appeared around 42 Mya in either the Neotropical or the Eastern Palaearctic, Oriental, and/or Indo-Australian regions, and underwent a quick radiation between 32 and 24 Mya, during which time most of its component subtribes originated. Several factors might have been important for the diversification of Satyrini: the ability to feed on grasses; early habitat shift into open, non-forest habitats; and geographic bridges, which permitted dispersal over marine barriers, enabling the geographic expansions of ancestors to new environments that provided opportunities for geographic differentiation, and diversification.'To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail'. Mark Twain
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)64-87
Number of pages24
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • Bayesian
  • Biogeography
  • Diversity
  • Grasses
  • Habitat shift
  • Host plants
  • Likelihood
  • Parsimony


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