The Neotropical region is the most biodiverse on Earth, in a large part due to the highly diverse tropical Andean biota. The Andes are a potentially important driver of diversification within the mountains and for neighboring regions. We compared the role of the Andes in diversification among three subtribes of Ithomiini butterflies endemic to the Neotropics, Dircennina, Oleriina, and Godyridina. The diversification patterns of Godyridina have been studied previously. Here, we generate the first time-calibrated phylogeny for the largest ithomiine subtribe, Dircennina, and we reanalyze a published phylogeny of Oleriina to test different biogeographic scenarios involving the Andes within an identical framework. We found common diversification patterns across the three subtribes, as well as major differences. In Dircennina and Oleriina, our results reveal a congruent pattern of diversification related to the Andes with an Andean origin, which contrasts with the Amazonian origin and multiple Andean colonizations of Godyridina. In each of the three subtribes, a clade diversified in the Northern Andes at a faster rate. Diversification within Amazonia occurred in Oleriina and Godyridina, while virtually no speciation occurred in Dircennina in this region. Dircennina was therefore characterized by higher diversification rates within the Andes compared to non-Andean regions, while in Oleriina and Godyridina, we found no difference between these regions. Our results and discussion highlight the importance of comparative approaches in biogeographic studies.
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© 2017 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.