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Host range oscillations in nymphalid butterflies: a phylogenetic investigation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

It has been suggested that phenotypic plasticity is a major factor in the diversification of life, and that variation in host range in phytophagous insects is a good model for investigating this claim. We explore the use of angiosperm plants as hosts for nymphalid butterflies, and in particular the evidence for past oscillations in host range and how they are linked to host shifts and diversification. At the level of orders of plants, a relatively simple pattern of host use emerges, despite the 100 million years of history of the family Nymphalidae. The ancestral host order was very likely Rosales. Later, major host shifts occurred to Gentianales (and even later Solanales) in the Danainae; to Arecales (and even later Poales) in the ”satyrines”; to Malpighiales as the main host order in the ”heliconiines”; and to Lamiales within Nymphalinae. We review the evidence that these host shifts and the accompanying diversifications were associated with transient polyphagous stages, as suggested by the ”oscillation hypothesis” of Janz & Nylin. In addition, we investigate all currently polyphagous nymphalid species (in terms of feeding on more than one host order) and demonstrate that the state of polyphagy is rare and has a weak phylogenetic signal and a very apical distribution in the phylogeny; we argue that these are signs of its transient nature. We contrast our results with data from the bark beetles Dendroctonus, where a more specialized host use is instead the apical state, and suggest that this is simply a stage during a single oscillation when host range is decreasing.

National Category
Ecology Evolutionary Biology Zoology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-71319OAI: diva2:484600
Available from: 2012-01-27 Created: 2012-01-27 Last updated: 2012-01-27
In thesis
1. The plasticity and geography of host use and the diversification of butterflies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The plasticity and geography of host use and the diversification of butterflies
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Our world is changing rapidly and factors like urbanisation, changed agricultural practices and climate change are causing losses in butterfly diversity. It is therefore of importance to understand the source of their diversity. Given the remarkable diversity of herbivorous insects compared to their non-herbivorous sister groups, changes in host use have been implicated as a promoter of speciation. This thesis looks at geographical aspects of host range evolution and the plasticity of host use. We show that butterflies in the subfamily Nymphalinae that feed on a wide range of host plants have larger geographic ranges than species with narrower host ranges. Although tropical butterflies appear to be more specialised than temperate species, this effect is lost when controlling for the differences in geographic range. Geographic variation in host plant use within Polygonia faunus, related to morphologically distinct subspecies, did not show any genetic differentiation. This suggests that the observed variation in host plant use is a plastic response to environmental differences. Reconstructing host use for the Polygonia-Nymphalis and Vanessa group shows that plasticity is also important for understanding host use at the level of butterfly genera. Using unequal transition costs and including larval feeding ability revealed that frequent colonisations of the same plant genus can often be explained by non-independent processes, such as multiple partial losses of host use, recolonisation of ancestral hosts, and parallel colonisations following a preadaptation for host use. These processes are further reflected in the conservative use of host plant orders within the butterfly family Nymphalidae. Few taxa feed on more than one host plant order, and these expansions occur at the very tips of the tree, which we argue is evidence of the transient nature of generalist host use. These insights improve our understanding of how host range evolution may promote diversification.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2012. 36 p.
Nymphalidae, host range, phylogeny, distribution, latitude, phylogeography, local specialisation, colonisation, host shift, polyphagy, speciation, diversification
National Category
Research subject
Animal Ecology
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-69573 (URN)978-91-7447-440-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-03-02, Magnélisalen, Kemiska övningslaboratoriet, Svante Arrhenius väg 16 B, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
At the time of the doctoral defence,the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Submitted; Papers 4 and 5: ManuscriptsAvailable from: 2012-02-08 Created: 2012-01-13 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved

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