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Toussaint, Emmanuel F. A.; Morinière, Jérome; Lam, Athena; Turlin, Bernard and Balke, Michael (2016): Bayesian Poisson tree processes and multispecies coalescent models shed new light on the diversification of Nawab butterflies in the Solomon Islands (Nymphalidae, Charaxinae, Polyura). In: Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Vol. 178, No. 2: pp. 241-256

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Butterflies of the genus Polyura form a widespread tropical group distributed from Pakistan to Fiji. The rare endemic Polyura epigenes Godman & Salvin, 1888 from the Solomon Islands archipelago represents a case of marked island polymorphism. We sequenced museum specimens of this species across its geographic range to study the phylogeography and genetic differentiation of populations in the archipelago. We used the Bayesian Poisson tree processes and multispecies coalescent models, to study species boundaries. We also estimated divergence times to investigate the biogeographic history of populations. Our molecular species delimitation and nuclear DNA network analyses unambiguously indicate that Malaita populations form an independent metapopulation lineage, as defined in the generalized lineage concept. This lineage, previously ranked as a subspecies, is raised to species rank under the name Polyura bicolor Turlin & Sato, 1995stat.nov. Divergence time estimates suggest that this lineage split from its sister taxon in the late Pleistocene. At this time, the bathymetric isolation of Malaita from the rest of the archipelago probably prevented gene flow during periods of lower sea level, thereby fostering allopatric speciation. The combination of molecular species delimitation methods, morphological comparisons, and divergence time estimation is useful to study lineage diversification across intricate geographic regions.

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