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Author/Editor: N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.


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05 Jul 2007 - Raffles Museum News has shifted to http://news.rafflesmuseum.net

Fri 18 Aug 2006

Thu 24 Aug 2006: 11am - Rod Eastwood on Ant association and speciation in Lycaenidae

Category : bejc

Meetings of the NUS DBS Biodiversity & Ecology Journal Club

"Ant association and speciation in Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera): consequences of novel adaptations and Pleistocene climate changes"

Rod Eastwood
Pierce Laboratory,
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Harvard University

Thursday, 24th August 2006; 11:00am

Seminar Room 3
Blk S2, Level 2,
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Science Drive 4
Please park at Carpark 10; See map

Host: David Lohman
Dept. Biological Sciences, NUS

About the Talk - The butterfly family Lycaenidae (including the Riodinidae) contains an estimated 30% of all butterfly species and exhibits a diverse array of life history strategies.

The early stages of most lycaenids associate with ants, ranging from casual facultative coexistence through to obligate association where the long-term survival of the butterfly is dependent on the presence of ants. Various lines of evidence suggest that ant association may have influenced lycaenid diversification or even enhanced the rates of speciation in the group.

Species and population level genetic techniques were used to test several hypotheses that could explain the role that ants play in the diversification of Lycaenidae, and to determine if ants could influence diversification in sympatry. A phylogeographic analysis of the Australian endemic butterfly Jalmenus evagoras found no evidence of ant enhanced diversification; however, regional isolation of butterfly subpopulations coincident with locally adapted ant taxa could generate a phylogenetic pattern in which related lycaenids would be seen to associate with related or ecologically similar ants.

A comparative methodology was then applied in a molecular phylogenetic analysis of the genus Jalmenus to test for a signal of diversification consistent with shifts in ant partners, and to infer the processes by which ants could influence speciation. The comparative analysis found that attendant ant shifts coincided with high levels of sympatry among sister species. This pattern could be explained by sympatric speciation; however, closer scrutiny of the data suggested it was more likely that ant shifts occurred during butterfly population expansions as a result of vegetation and climate changes in the Pleistocene. Attendant-ant shifts clearly played an important role in the diversification process, and in the maintenance of species integrity among lycaenid butterflies.

About the Speaker - Rod Eastwood recently completed his Ph.D. at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, where he used population and species level genetic methods to examine the evolution of the endemic Australian butterfly genus Jalmenus. As a Ph.D. student he spent one year at Harvard University as a W.G. Walker Memorial Fulbright Fellow. He has recently begun postdoctoral research, again at Harvard, on the molecular systematics of the butterfly family Lycaenidae.

Posted at 4:08AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,