Nymphalidae Systematics Group

The subfamily HELICONIINAE

M. agalaja

The subfamily Heliconiinae has really only been delimited as it is now since 1991, when Harvey placed the argynnines and acraeines with the heliconiines. A recent phylogenetic study of the subfamily by Penz and Peggie (2003) suggests that the subfamily should be divided into 4 tribes. The phylogenetic relationships of various groups in Heliconiinae have been heavily studied, especially in the tribe Heliconiini. The NSG is involved in a study on the tribe Argynnini (e.g. Simonsen et al. 2006) and in a molecular study on South American Acraeini, in collaboration with André Freitas. The NSG is also involved in a project aiming to combine the morphological data of Penz and Peggie (2003) with molecular data.

According to the most recent version of the Classification of Nymphalidae, the subfamily comprises 504 species placed into 40 genera and 4 tribes.

Heliconiinae phylogeny

Key publications for Heliconiinae systematics:

  1. Brower, A. V. Z. 1994. Phylogeny of Heliconius butterflies inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 3:159-174.
  2. Brower, A. V. Z. 1994. Rapid morphological radiation and convergence among races of the butterfly Heliconius erato inferred from patterns of mitochondrial DNA evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 91:6491-6495.
  3. Brower, A. V. Z. 1996. Parallel race formation and the evolution of mimicry in Heliconius butterflies: a phylogenetic hypothesis from mitochondrial DNA sequences. Evolution 50:195-221.
  4. Brower, A. V. Z. 1997. The evolution of ecologically important characters in Heliconius butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae): a cladistic review. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 119:457-472.
  5. Brower, A. V. Z., and M. G. Egan. 1997. Cladistic analysis of Heliconius butterflies and relatives (Nymphalidae: Heliconiiti): a revised phylogenetic position for Eueides based on sequences from mtDNA and a nuclear gene. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences 264:969-977.
  6. Brown Jr., K. S. 1981. The biology of Heliconius and related genera. Annual Review of Entomology 26: 427-456.
  7. dos Passos, C. F., and L. P. Grey. 1945. A genitalic survey of the Argynninae (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae). American Museum Novitates 1296: 1-29.
  8. Emsley, M. 1963. A morphological study of imagine Heliconiinae (Lep.: Nymphalidae) with a consideration of the evolutionary relationships within the group. Zoologica 50: 191-254.
  9. Michner, C. D. 1942. A generic revision of the Heliconiinae (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). American Museum Novitates 1197: 1-8.
  10. Penz, C. M. 1999. Higher level phylogeny for the passion-vine butterflies (Nymphalidae, Heliconiinae) based on early stage and adult morphology. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 127: 277-344.
  11. Penz, C. M. & Peggie, D. 2003. Phylogenetic relationships among Heliconiinae genera based on morphology (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Systematic Entomology 28: 451-479.
  12. Pierre, J. 1987. Systématique cladistique chez les Acraea (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae). Annales Société Entomologique de la France 23: 11-27.
  13. Shirozu, T., and T. Sibatani. 1973. A generic classification of the genus Argynnis and its allied genera (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Sieboldia 4: 99-104.
  14. Simonsen, T. J. 2005. Boloria phylogeny (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae): tentatively reconstructed on the basis of male and female genitalic morphology. Systematic Entomology 30:653-665.
  15. Simonsen, T. J. 2006. Fritillary phylogeny, classification and larval hostplants: reconstructed mainly on the basis of male and female genitalic morphology (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Argynnini). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 89:627-673.
  16. Simonsen, T. J. 2006. The male genitalia segments in fritillary butterflies: Comparative morphology with special reference to the ’rectal plate’ in Issoria (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). European Journal of Entomology 103:425-432.
  17. Simonsen, T. J., N. Wahlberg, A. V. Z. Brower, and R. de Jong. 2006. Morphology, molecules and Fritillaries: approaching a stable phylogeny for Argynnini (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Insect Systematics & Evolution 37:405-418.

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