Marabuto, E., Pina-Martins, F., Rebelo, M.T. & Paulo, O.S. (2020) Ancient divergence, a crisis of salt and another of ice shaped the evolution of the west Mediterranean butterfly Euchloe tagis.Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 131(3), 487-504. DOI:10.1093/biolinnean/blaa129 (IF2020 2,138; Q3 Evolutionary Biology)
The Mediterranean region is an extremely complex hotspot where, since the Miocene, extensive geological, habitat and climate changes have taken place, alternating between warm and cold periods. These phenomena have taken a toll on the genetic composition of species, and surviving lineages have often adapted locally and diverged to the point of (complete) speciation. To study these phenomena, in this study we used one of the most enigmatic butterflies, the Portuguese dappled white, Euchloe tagis, a west Mediterranean endemic with fragmented, morphologically differentiated populations whose status have long been disputed. Even its affiliations with other Anthocharidini are largely unresolved. We used mitochondrial and nuclear markers under a phylogenetic and phylogeographical framework to evaluate its placement among relatives and population differentiation, reconstructing its evolutionary history. We found that this species had a Miocene origin ~15 Mya and was nearest to Euchloe s.s. and Elphinstonia. Its populations showed high genetic diversity but all coalesced to 5.3 Mya, when European and all but one African population diverged. Our multiple findings concerning the evolution of E. tagis through a changing, narrow habitable area might provide a more general perspective on how species survive within this hotspot of paramount importance.