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 2007, Metamorphosis Volume 18, Issue 1
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Search Results Official Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society of Africa
2007, Metamorphosis Volume 18, Issue 1: 1 - 46
Publication Date : 2007-03-31
Author/s : Alan Heath and Ernest L. Pringle
Title :

Biological observations and a taxonomic review based on morphological characters in the myrmecophilous genus Chrysoritis Butler (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Aphnaeinae)


Abstract :

The biology of juvenile stages of species in the genus is discussed and extensively illustrated on the accompanying electronic supplementary material (Compact Disc ~ CD).  Differences of colour ranging form red, through brown to green in the larval stages are shown to be unrelated to their taxonomy.  The phenotypic characters of larvae remain relatively uniform within each species group.  The pattern on the hind wing verso of adults is also uniform within species groups.

Synonymies in the genus Chrysoritis proposed by Heath (2001) are discussed at length and relevant characteristics are illustrated on the accompanying CD.  The following taxonomic changes are made:  Nine of the taxa synonymised in 2001 are here elevated to subspecific status, they are: C. pyramus balli (Dickson) stat. rev.; C. turneri wykehami (Dickson) stat.rev.; C. zonarius coetzeri (Dickson) stat.rev.; C. zeuxo cottrelli (Dickson) stat.rev.; C. swanepoeli hyperion (Dickson) stat.rev.; C. beaufortius charlesi (Dickson) stat.rev.; C. beaufortius stepheni (Dickson) stat.rev.; C. pan Lysander (Pennington) stat.rev.; C. pan henningi (Bampton) stat.rev.; Chrysoritis thysbe f. osbecki (Aurivillius) is raised to subspecific status, as C. t. osbecki (Aurivillius) stat.rev. Three new subspecies are described: C. beaufortius sutherlandensis ssp.n., C. adonis aridimontis ssp. n., and C. nigricans rubrescens ssp.n.  A revised systematic list is given, based on Heath (1997a: 2001) and the morphological findings therein.  Further taxonomic changes are anticipated, but await the results of a molecular study initiated at Harvard University (currently in progress) before taxonomic changes at the species level are proposed.

The mechanism causing melanism in butterflies is briefly reviewed.  Although levels of melanism can be directly influenced by environmental factors, there is also a heritable component in some Chrysoritis taxa.  We show that where there are intergrades between dark and pale forms, such individuals, differing only in levels of melanism, should be regarded as conspecific.  We argue that parapatric populations of incipient species do not require total reproductive isolation from each other in order to be treated as subspecies.  We believe the role of Hemiptera (Sternorrhyncha and Auchenorrhyncha, formerly ‘Homoptera’) in the ontogeny of Chrysoritis species has to date been overlooked and is in need of closer study if conservation needs of these and other myrmecophilous butterflies are to be fully understood.  It is hypothesized that Hemiptera and ants together may often provide the primary oviposition cue for females in the genus, and that foodplants could play a much lesser role in the selection of oviposition sites.  We raise the possibility that species radiation took place once the genus had penetrated the winter rainfall, Capensis region from the east.


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