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Prato allo Stelvio - Prad am Stilfser Joch, Italy

Zinetti F.,University of Florence | Dapporto L.,Istituto Comprensivo Materna Elementare Media Convenevole da Prato | Vanni S.,University of Florence | Bartolozzi L.,University of Florence | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Insect Conservation | Year: 2013

Integration of molecular genetic techniques and geometric morphometrics represent a valuable tool in the resolution of taxonomic uncertainty and the identification of significant units for conservation. We combined mitochondrial DNA cytochrome c oxidase subunit II gene sequence data and geometric morphometric analysis to examine taxonomic status and identify units for conservation in four species of the hypogean beetle Duvalius (Coleoptera, Trechinae) using mainly museum specimens collected in central Italy. Previous taxonomic studies based on morphological traits described several subspecies often inhabiting geographically distinct caves. Phylogenetic analysis identified two well supported monophyletic lineages and a number of different clades with relatively small genetic differences, suggesting a short divergence time in line with known geological history of the study area. Geometric morphometrics, on the other hand, recovered a high level of distinctiveness among specimens. Both genetic and morphometric analyses did not entirely corroborate former taxonomic nomenclature, suggesting possible rearrangements and the definition of evolutionary significant units. Beetles of the genus Duvalius are protected by regional laws and the majority of taxa considered in this study inhabit caves located outside protected areas. Our study advocates the importance of devoting protection efforts to networks of cave ecosystems rather than single locations or species. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Zinetti F.,University of Florence | Dapporto L.,Istituto Comprensivo Materna Elementare Media Convenevole da Prato | Vovlas A.,University of Turin | Chelazzi G.,University of Florence | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

There is increasing evidence that most parapatric cryptic/sister taxa are reproductively compatible across their areas of contact. Consequently, the biological species concept, which assumes absence of interbreeding, is becoming a not so effective criterion in evolutionary ecology. Nevertheless, the few parapatric sister taxa showing complete reproductive barriers represent interesting models to study speciation processes and the evolution of reproductive isolation. In this study, we examined contact populations in northwestern Italy of two butterfly species, Zerynthia polyxena and Z. cassandra, characterized by different genitalic morphotypes. We studied levels of divergence among 21 populations distributed from Sicily to France using three genetic markers (the mitochondrial COI and ND1 genes and the nuclear wingless gene) and genitalic geometric morphometrics. Moreover, we performed species distribution modelling to estimate different climatic requirements of Z. polyxena and Z. cassandra. We projected climatic data into glacial maximum scenarios in order to verify if and to which extent glacial cycles could have contributed to speciation processes. Genetic and morphometric analyses identified two main groups. All specimens showed a concordant pattern of diversification, including those individuals sampled in the contact area. Haplotype distribution and climatic models showed that during glacial maxima both species experienced a strong range contraction and presumably remained separated into different microrefugia in southern France, in the Italian Peninsula and on the islands of Elba and Sicily. Long term separation was probably favoured by reduced dispersal ability and high phylopatry, while genitalic diversification probably favoured interbreeding avoidance. Conversely, the aposematic wing pattern remained almost identical. We compared our results with those obtained in other species and concluded that Z. polyxena and Z. cassandra represent a valuable model in the study of speciation. © 2013 Zinetti et al.

Baracchi D.,University of Florence | Dapporto L.,Istituto Comprensivo Materna Elementare Media Convenevole da Prato | Teseo S.,University of Florence | Hashim R.,University of Malaya | Turillazzi S.,University of Florence
Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research | Year: 2010

The Stenogastrinae wasps have been proposed as a key group for an understanding of social evolution in insects, but the phylogeny of the group is still under discussion. The use of chemical characters, in particular cuticular hydrocarbons, for insect taxonomy is relatively recent and only a few studies have been conducted on the cuticular polar substances. In this work, we ascertain, by the matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry technique, that different species of primitively eusocial hover wasps have different compositions of the epicuticular polar compounds ranging from 900 to 3600 Da. General linear model analysis and discriminant analysis showed that the average spectral profiles of this fraction can be diagnostic for identification of the species. Moreover, for the first time we show population diversification in the medium MW polar cuticular mixtures in insects. In conclusion, the results demonstrate that the chemical characters are consistent with the physical characters and the study support the importance of medium MW polar substances as powerful tools for systematics (chemosystematics) and chemical ecology (fertility signal and population characterization) in a primitively social insect taxon. © 2009 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

Habel J.C.,Natural History Museum Luxembourg | Husemann M.,Baylor University | Schmitt T.,University of Trier | Dapporto L.,Istituto Comprensivo Materna Elementare Media Convenevole da Prato | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Heredity | Year: 2013

Numerous studies addressing the impact of habitat fragmentation on genetic diversity have been performed. In this study, we analyze the effects of a seemingly nonpermeable matrix on the population structure of the forest-dwelling butterfly Pararge aegeria in geographically isolated oases at the northern margin of the Sahara desert using microsatellites, morphological characters, and species distribution modeling. Results from all analyses are mostly congruent and reveal 1) a split between European and North African populations, 2) rather low divergence between populations from the eastern and western part of North Africa (Morocco vs. Tunisia), 3) a lack of differentiation between the oasis and Atlas Mountain populations, 4) as well as among the oasis populations, and 5) no reduction of genetic variability in oasis populations. However, one exception to this general trend resulted from the analyses of wing shape; wings of butterflies from oases are more elongated compared with those from the other habitats. This pattern of phenotypic divergence may suggest a recent colonization of the oasis habitats by individuals, which might be accompanied by a rather dispersive behavior. Species distribution modeling suggests a fairly recent reexpansion of the species' climatic niche starting in the Holocene at about 6000 before present. The combined results indicate a rather recent colonization of the oases by highly mobile individuals from genetically diverse founder populations. The colonization was likely followed by the expansion and persistence of these founder populations under relatively stable environmental conditions. This, together with low rates of gene flow, likely prevented differentiation of populations via drift and led to the maintenance of high genetic diversity. © The American Genetic Association. 2012. All rights reserved.

Dapporto L.,Istituto Comprensivo Materna Elementare Media Convenevole da Prato
Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research | Year: 2010

Migration of populations to and from glacial refugia is responsible for various cases of speciation and subspeciation in Europe. The pattern of distribution and the degree of diversification between lineages originated by isolation in different glacial refugia usually depends on ecological traits, especially to their dispersal ability. Zerynthia polyxena is a philopatric species, scattered in small populations and rarely colonizing mountain areas. These characteristics probably caused repeated isolation during the Quaternary and may have favoured diversification. Actually two studies, based on both morphological and genetic data, suggest the existence of two highly distinct lineages in Europe having in Northern Italy their contact zone. In this study, I applied geometric morphometrics to male genitalia and demonstrated that (i) two morphotypes exist in Europe approximately facing on the two sides of the Po River; (ii) the two lineages probably survived glaciations in Italy and the Balkan Peninsula, respectively; then the Balkans lineage expanded to Central and Eastern Europe; (iii) no hybrid populations seem to exist in the contact area and, in one locality at least, the two lineages live in sympatry without any evidence of intermediates. These results suggest that (i) two sister species of Zerynthia exist in Europe. Accordingly, Papilio cassandra Geyer, 1828 is reinstated, as Zerynthia cassandra stat. rev., as the species to which the Zerynthia from Italy South of the Po River belong. Male genitalia differences with Zerynthia polyxena are described. © 2009 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

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