Population Genetic Structure in the Acmon Complex of Plebejus (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in Western North America




Spencer, Maurine K.

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Population genetic and phylogeographic data were used to investigate on-going divergence in a complex of butterflies of the genus Plebejus. Plebejus acmon acmon and P. lupini lupini occur sympatrically in California and show no signs of intermediacy. Outside of California, subspecies (P. acmon texanus and P. acmon lutzi) possess intermediate forms of the traits used to distinguish P. acmon from P. lupini. Sequence data from the nuclear gene wingless and mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) for 39 populations of the Acmon complex were used to elucidate geographical patterns of population genetic variation. Results from with wingless show no genetic structure in this nuclear gene, indicating that divergence within the species complex has occurred recently or is on-going. Examination of spatial genetic structure of the COI region indicates one large homogenous clade in California occurring west of the Sierra Nevada crest, as well as nine other morphologically and genetically heterogeneous groups occurring mostly east of the Sierran crest. Evidence exists for a Pleistocene refugium in California, with subsequent range expansion inhibited by the Sierra Nevada. At least one other Pleistocene refuge existed east of the Sierra Nevada from which post-Pleistocene range expansion occurred. The morphological and genetic variation of the eastern groups indicates a complex geographical pattern of localized differentiation.



Genetics, Population genetics, Plebejus


Spencer, M. K. (2005). Population genetic structure in the Acmon complex of Plebejus (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in western North America (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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