DNA barcoding is a technique used primarily for the documentation and identification of biological diversity based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. Butterflies have received particular attention in DNA barcoding studies, although varied performance may be obtained due to different scales of geographic sampling and speciation processes in various groups. The montane Andean Satyrinae constitutes a challenging study group for taxonomy. The group displays high richness, with more of 550 species, and remarkable morphological similarity among taxa, which renders their identification difficult. In the present study, we evaluated the effectiveness of DNA barcodes in the identification of montane Andean satyrines and the effect of increased geographical scale of sampling on identification performance. Mitochondrial sequences were obtained from 104 specimens of 39 species and 16 genera, collected in a forest remnant in the northwest Andes. DNA barcoding has proved to be a useful tool for the identification of the specimens, with a well-defined gap and producing clusters with unambiguous identifications for all the morphospecies in the study area. The expansion of the geographical scale with published data increased genetic distances within species and reduced those among species, but did not generally reduce the success of specimen identification. Only in Forsterinaria rustica (Butler, 1868), a taxon with high intraspecific variation, the barcode gap was lost and low support for monophyly was obtained. Likewise, expanded sampling resulted in a substantial increase in the intraspecific distance in Morpho sulkowskyi (Kollar, 1850); Panyapedaliodes drymaea (Hewitson, 1858); Lymanopoda obsoleta (Westwood, 1851); and Lymanopoda labda Hewitson, 1861; but for these species, the barcode gap was maintained. These divergent lineages are nonetheless worth a detailed study of external and genitalic morphology variation, as well as ecological features, in order to determine the potential existence of cryptic species. Even including these cases, DNA barcoding performance in specimen identification was 100% successful based on monophyly, an unexpected result in such a taxonomically complicated group.
Neotropical Entomology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 23, 2017
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