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Title: The phylogeography and molecular evolution of ithomiine butterflies
Author: Whinnett, Alaine Jean
ISNI:       0000 0001 3566 7030
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis uses molecular techniques to investigate aspects of the evolution of ithomiine butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Ithomiinae). 1) This thesis takes a comparative phylogeographic approach to investigate the diversification of ithomiines collected across an Amazonian suture zone in N. E. Peru. High variability of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and triosephosphate isomerase (Tpi) sequence divergences was recovered, which, i) suggested that diversification of the ithomiines studied here was inconsistent with predictions of the Pleistocene forest refugia theory, one of the leading hypotheses used to explain the record richness of Amazonian biodiversity, and ii) challenged the categorisation of taxa based purely on DNA divergence thresholds, as proposed by DNA barcoding. 2) This thesis also investigates the contribution of ecological adaptation versus allopatric differentiation in explaining the distribution patterns of 4 subspecies belonging to the ithomiine species Hyposcada anchiala. The mtDNA sequence data revealed that the most recent radiations were consistent with allopatric divergence during the Pleistocene. 3) In addition, this thesis generates gene genealogies for the ithomiine tribe Oleriini, based on regions of mtDNA, wingless and elongation factor /-a. In nearly all cases individuals were clustered by species into the four recognised genera. However, the relationships between the genera remains undetermined. These data contribute to a complete Oleriini phylogeny, which will be used to examine aspects of the evolution of this tribe. 4) Finally, this thesis contributes to the development of nuclear loci for PCR in Lepidoptera. Tpi had previously been used for phylogenetics, but here was further developed so that a longer region could be amplified. Primers were also developed for a novel region, Tektin, which is shown to have phylogenetic utility at the genus, tribe and subfamily levels.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available