African Butterfly Research Institute

Nairobi, Kenya

African Butterfly Research Institute

Nairobi, Kenya
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Martins D.J.,Harvard University | Martins D.J.,Turkana Basin Institute | Collins S.C.,African Butterfly Research Institute | Congdon C.,African Butterfly Research Institute | Pierce N.E.,Harvard University
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2013

The African lycaenid butterfly, Anthene usamba, is an obligate myrmecophile of the acacia ant, Crematogaster mimosae. Female butterflies use the presence of C. mimosae as an oviposition cue. The eggs are laid on the foliage and young branches of the host plant, Acacia drepanolobium. Larvae shelter in the swollen thorns (domatia) of the host tree, where they live in close association with the acacia ants, and each larva occupies a domatium singly. Anthene usamba are tended by ants that feed from the dorsal nectary organ at regular intervals. Larvae also possess tentacle organs flanking the dorsal nectary organ and appear to signal to ants by everting these structures. Larvae were observed to spend most of their time within the domatia. Stable isotope analysis of matched host plant-ant-butterfly samples revealed that Anthene usamba are δ15N enriched relative to the ants with which they associate. These data, based on the increase in δ15N through trophic levels, indicate that the caterpillars of these butterflies are aphytophagous and either exploit the ant brood of C. mimosae within the domatia, or are fed mouth to mouth by adult workers via trophallaxis. This is the first documented case of aphytophagy in African Anthene. Pupation occurs inside the domatium and the imago emerges and departs via the hole chewed by the larva. The adult females remain closely associated with their natal patch of trees, whereas males disperse more widely across the acacia savannah. Females prefer to oviposit on trees with the specific host ant, C. mimosae, an aggressive obligate mutualist, and avoid neighbouring trees with other ant species. Adult butterflies are active during most months of the year, and there are at least two to three generations each year. Observations made over a 5-year period indicate that a number of different lycaenid species utilize ant-acacias in East Africa, and these observations are summarized, together with comparisons from the literature. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London.


Mitter K.T.,University of Maryland University College | Larsen T.B.,Jacobys alle 2 | De Prins W.,University of Amsterdam | De Prins J.,Royal Museum for Central Africa | And 7 more authors.
Systematic Entomology | Year: 2011

The Afrotropical butterfly subfamily Pseudopontiinae (Pieridae) was traditionally thought to comprise one species, with two subspecies (Pseudopontia paradoxa paradoxa Felder & Felder and Pseudopontia paradoxa australis Dixey) differing in a single detail of a hindwing vein. The two subspecies also differ in their known geographic distributions (mainly north of versus south of the equator). Unlike most butterflies, Pseudopontia is white with no visible wing or body markings. We now report that males of P. paradoxa australis have an area of ultraviolet-reflecting scales along the anal vein of the forewing, whereas males of P. paradoxa paradoxa and all females do not. A total of 21 individuals of the northern subspecies, which were collected in three localities south of the equator, were found in the collection of the Royal Museum for Central Africa, indicating sympatry of the two traditional subspecies in the Congo River basin. To determine if additional cryptic species might be present, we sequenced three nuclear genes (CAD, DDC and wingless) as well as cytochrome oxidase I (COI), examined amplified fragment-length polymorphisms, and re-examined wing and genitalic morphology, using recently collected specimens from several regions of Africa. Phylogenetic analyses of the COI sequences and amplified fragment-length polymorphism data concur, and indicate the existence of at least five monophyletic, non-interbreeding populations, with a particularly deep divergence between three populations of P. paradoxa paradoxa and two of P. paradoxa australis. Despite the slow rate of evolution of the nuclear genes studied, individual gene trees and a concatenated three-gene tree demonstrate, with high bootstrap support, clear divergence among the five populations of Pseudopontia. In addition, consistent variations in details of wing vein stalks were found among four of the genetically distinct populations, which supports the hypothesis of multiple species. Division of Pseudopontia into five phylogenetic species is proposed, including the elevation of ssp. australis to species rank and the description of Pseudopontia mabira, Pseudopontia gola and Pseudopontia zambezi. © 2010 The Authors. Systematic Entomology © 2010 The Royal Entomological Society.


De Jong M.A.,Leiden University | De Jong M.A.,University of Helsinki | Collins S.,African Butterfly Research Institute | Beldade P.,Leiden University | And 5 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2013

One of the major questions in ecology and evolutionary biology is how variation in the genome enables species to adapt to divergent environments. Here, we study footprints of thermal selection in candidate genes in six wild populations of the afrotropical butterfly Bicyclus anynana sampled along a c. 3000 km latitudinal cline. We sequenced coding regions of 31 selected genes with known functions in metabolism, pigment production, development and heat shock responses. These include genes for which we expect a priori a role in thermal adaptation and, thus, varying selection pressures along a latitudinal cline, and genes we do not expect to vary clinally and can be used as controls. We identified amino acid substitution polymorphisms in 13 genes and tested these for clinal variation by correlation analysis of allele frequencies with latitude. In addition, we used two FST-based outlier methods to identify loci with higher population differentiation than expected under neutral evolution, while accounting for potentially confounding effects of population structure and demographic history. Two metabolic enzymes of the glycolytic pathway, UGP and Treh, showed clinal variation. The same loci showed elevated population differentiation and were identified as significant outliers. We found no evidence of clines in the pigmentation genes, heat shock proteins and developmental genes. However, we identified outlier loci in more localized parts of the range in the pigmentation genes yellow and black. We discuss that the observed clinal variation and elevated population divergence in UGP and Treh may reflect adaptation to a geographic thermal gradient. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


SAfiAn S.,University of West Hungary | Libert M.,Rue Henry Barbet | Collins S.C.,African Butterfly Research Institute
Zootaxa | Year: 2013

Two new butterfly species belonging to the genus Aphnaeus (Lycaenidae: Theclinae), A. mirabilis sp. n., A. nimbaensis sp. n. were found in the Nimba Mountains, Western Range, Liberia in February 2012. Both are illustrated and described in comparison with closely related species: A. flavescens Stempffer, 1954 and A. liberti Bouyer, 1996, respectively. Gen-italia of the male holotype of A. nimbaensis are also illustrated. © 2013 Magnolia Press.


PubMed | CNRS Systematics, Biodiversity and Evolution Institute, Natural History Museum in London, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, University of Exeter and 3 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings. Biological sciences | Year: 2014

The African Mocker Swallowtail, Papilio dardanus, is a textbook example in evolutionary genetics. Classical breeding experiments have shown that wing pattern variation in this polymorphic Batesian mimic is determined by the polyallelic H locus that controls a set of distinct mimetic phenotypes. Using bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) sequencing, recombination analyses and comparative genomics, we show that H co-segregates with an interval of less than 500 kb that is collinear with two other Lepidoptera genomes and contains 24 genes, including the transcription factor genes engrailed (en) and invected (inv). H is located in a region of conserved gene order, which argues against any role for genomic translocations in the evolution of a hypothesized multi-gene mimicry locus. Natural populations of P. dardanus show significant associations of specific morphs with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), centred on en. In addition, SNP variation in the H region reveals evidence of non-neutral molecular evolution in the en gene alone. We find evidence for a duplication potentially driving physical constraints on recombination in the lamborni morph. Absence of perfect linkage disequilibrium between different genes in the other morphs suggests that H is limited to nucleotide positions in the regulatory and coding regions of en. Our results therefore support the hypothesis that a single gene underlies wing pattern variation in P. dardanus.


Brattstrom O.,University of Cambridge | Aduse-Poku K.,University of Cambridge | Collins S.C.,African Butterfly Research Institute | Di Micco De Santo T.,African Butterfly Research Institute | Brakefield P.M.,University of Cambridge
Systematic Entomology | Year: 2016

In this paper we present a thorough revision of the sciathis species group of the butterfly genus Bicyclus (Kirby). Type materials are discussed and in several cases lectotypes are assigned to specimens from original type series. Four new, and morphologically distinct, species are described (B. elishiae Brattström sp.n., B. heathi Brattström sp.n., B. sigiussidorum Brattström sp.n. and B. subtilisurae Brattström sp.n.), along with a comprehensive molecular phylogeny that includes exemplar taxa of all currently recognized species. We also investigate the types of all previously synonymized taxa and in the process invalidate the name B. ewondo Libert. This was done after finding the previously missing holotype of B. makomensis (Strand), which clearly belongs to the same species and thereby gives the older name priority. The phylogeny showed that some distinctly different species were surprisingly closely related, suggesting a high rate of morphological evolution in parts of the sciathis group. The distributional records for the group are updated after investigating over 1700 specimens kept in a range of museum collections. Many species previously thought to be broadly sympatric were found to have much more restricted ranges, with the previous overestimations probably based on misidentified specimens. The higher level of allopatry now established will make identification of many morphologically similar species easier. The fact that species often have smaller ranges than previously known, meaning that the level of endemism for African butterflies is likely to be higher than current estimates, has important implications for conservation management. An identification key for males of all 13 currently recognized species in the species group is included. This published work has been registered in ZooBank, http://zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:837A9D4C-779A-4497-8176-7151D409DFA5. © 2016 The Royal Entomological Society.


Safian S.,University of West Hungary | Safian S.,African Butterfly Research Institute | Collins S.C.,African Butterfly Research Institute
Zootaxa | Year: 2015

Finding of two undescribed species, closely related to Eresiomera paradoxa (Schultze, 1917) in Liberia and the Demo-cratic Repubic of Congo led the authors to revise the material available in the African Butterfly Reserarch Institute (ABRI), Nairobi. Examination of the material revealed that the placement of E. paradoxa and the related species neither in the genus Eresiomera Clench, 1965, nor in Pseuderesia Butler, 1874 in which the species was originally described, is satisfactory, based on characters offered by the wings and genitalia. Solving the problem a new genus, Parasiomera gen. Nov. is erected for E. paradoxa and related taxa and two new species are described: P. alfa sp. Nov., P. kivuensis sp. Nov. The taxon orientalis Stempffer, 1962 orignally described as subspecies of Pseuderesia paradoxa is also elevated to species rank and placed in the new genus resulting the new combination and new status Parasiomera orientalis (Stempffer, 1962). To secure objectivity of the name usage of P. paradoxa, the only existing syntpe is designated as lectotype. Copyright © 2015 Magnolia Press.


Safian S.,University of West Hungary | Safian S.,African Butterfly Research Institute | Pyrcz T.,Jagiellonian University | Brattstrom O.,University of Cambridge
Zootaxa | Year: 2016

Two new endemic butterfly species from the genus Bebearia: B. oshogbo sp. nov. and B. wojtusiaki sp. nov., are described from western Nigeria; B. oshogbo is most closely related to the Guineo-Congolian B. tentyris (Hewitson) and the Upper Guinean B. osyris (Schultze), whereas B. wojtusiaki constitutes a morphological and biogeographic link between the Central African B. plistonax (Hewitson) and the Upper Guinean endemic B. arcadius (Fabricius). The finding of these new species gives further strong evidence that western Nigeria should be recognized as a distinct biogeographic sub-region of West Africa, as the area hosts a substantial number of endemic taxa (listed in the discussion). Copyright © 2016 Magnolia Press.


PubMed | African Butterfly Research Institute and University of Cambridge
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Zootaxa | Year: 2015

The ignobilis-group of the genus Bicyclus Kirby 1871 is revised. The species-group contains six species with a distinct wing pattern, but limited intraspecific variation, distributed across tropical African rainforest. We investigate a set of more than 1000 specimens from a range of museum collections, including some type material, and thoroughly update the biogeographical knowledge for the group. We also describe two new species as members of the group. The included species are: Bicyclus ignobilis (Butler 1870) stat. rev., B. rileyi Condamin 1961, B. maesseni Condamin 1971, B. brakefieldi Brattstrm 2012, B. ottossoni sp. nov. and B. vandeweghei sp. nov. Due to observing a gradual morphological cline within B. ignobilis without any sharp transitions we suppress the previously identified subspecies B. ignobilis eurini Condamin & Fox 1963 syn. nov. and B. ignobilis acutus Condamin 1965 syn. nov.


PubMed | University of West Hungary and African Butterfly Research Institute
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Zootaxa | Year: 2015

Finding of two undescribed species, closely related to Eresiomera paradoxa (Schultze, 1917) in Liberia and the Democratic Repubic of Congo led the authors to revise the material available in the African Butterfly Reserarch Institute (ABRI), Nairobi. Examination of the material revealed that the placement of E. paradoxa and the related species neither in the genus Eresiomera Clench, 1965, nor in Pseuderesia Butler, 1874 in which the species was originally described, is satisfactory, based on characters offered by the wings and genitalia. Solving the problem a new genus, Parasiomera gen. nov. is erected for E. paradoxa and related taxa and two new species are described: P. alfa sp. nov., P. kivuensis sp. nov. The taxon orientalis Stempffer, 1962 orignally described as subspecies of Pseuderesia paradoxa is also elevated to species rank and placed in the new genus resulting the new combination and new status Parasiomera orientalis (Stempffer, 1962). To secure objectivity of the name usage of P. paradoxa, the only existing syntpe is designated as lectotype.

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