Journal Article

Rise and fall of island butterfly diversity : understanding genetic differentiation and extinction in a highly diverse archipelago


Aim. We describe fine-scale diversity patterns of the entire butterfly fauna occurring on the Tuscan Archipelago. By assessing the traits associated with population diversification, haplotype uniqueness and extinction, we aim to identify the factors determining the origin and maintenance of genetic diversity, and population vulnerability to environmental changes. Location. Tuscan Archipelago, Sardinia, Tuscany (Italy) and Corsica (France). Methods. We built a mtDNA dataset (1,303 COI sequences) for the 52 butterfly species reported in the Archipelago, also including specimens from neighbouring areas, and compiled data on 12 species traits and on the apparent extinction of species from the main islands. We calculated indices that measure genetic differentiation, and using phylogenetic regressions we evaluated the relationships between these indices and species traits. Finally, we inferred which traits are associated with disappearance of species on individual islands using phylogenetic regression. Results. The overall spatial pattern of genetic diversity corresponded with the proximity of the areas, but strong contrasts were also identified between geographically close areas. Together with the island endemics, several common and widespread species had a high genetic diversification among islands and mainland. Phylogenetic regressions revealed that smaller-sized, more specialized species, with a preference for drier regions, displayed greater genetic structure and/or haplotype uniqueness. Species that disappeared from islands had a higher population diversification. Capraia has experienced a notable loss of diversity, which significantly affected species with shorter flight periods. Main conclusions. Tuscan island butterflies are characterized by strong genetic contrasts and species differ in their contribution to the overall genetic diversity. By ranking the species for their contribution to genetic diversity and identifying the traits linked to the emergence and maintenance of diversity, we have developed a valuable tool for prioritizing populations as targets for monitoring and conservation action. The dataset constructed also represents a valuable resource for testing biogeographical hypotheses.

Attached files


Dapporto, Leonardo
Cini, Alessandro
Menchetti, Mattia
Voda, Raluca
Bonelli, Simona
Casacci, Luca P.
Dinca, Vlad
Scalercio, Stefano
Hinojosa, Joan C.
Biermann, Heinrich
Forbicioni, Leonardo
Mazzantini, Umberto
Venturi, Lucia
Zanichelli, Franca
Balletto, Emilio
Shreeve, Tim G.
Dennis, Roger L.H.
Vila, Roget

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Biological and Medical Sciences


Year of publication: 2017
Date of RADAR deposit: 2017-09-20

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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