The monophyletic Morpho sulkowskyi butterfly group, endemic of Andean cloud forests, was studied to test the respective contributions of Mio-Pliocene intense uplift period and Pleistocene glacial cycles on Andean biodiversity. We sampled nine taxa covering the whole geographical range of the group. Two mitochondrial and two nuclear genes were analysed using a Bayesian method. We established a dated phylogeny of the group using a relaxed clock method and a wide-outgroup approach. To discriminate between two hypotheses, we used a biogeographical probabilistic method. Results suggest that the ancestor of the M. sulkowskyi group originated during the Middle–Late Miocene uplift of the Eastern Cordillera in northern Peru. Biogeographical inference suggests that the M. sulkowskyi and Morpho lympharis clades diverged in the northern Peruvian Andes. The subsequent divergences, from the Late Miocene to the Late Pliocene, should have resulted from a dispersal towards the Northern Andes (M. sulkowskyi clade), after the closure of the West Andean Portal separating the Central and Northern Andes, and a southwards dispersal along the Peruvian and Bolivian Eastern Cordilleras (M. lympharis clade). Only a few divergences occurred at the very end of the Pliocene or during the Pleistocene, a period when the more recent uplifts interfered with Pleistocene glacial cycles.
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