Nymphalidae phylogeny

Niklas Wahlberg

The diversity in form and life style has meant that the phylogenetic relationships of nymphalids was for a long time contentious. This in turn has meant that there was no consensus on the classification of the group, with some authors splitting the family into up to 9 different families! The lack of a good phylogenetic hypothesis also meant that the evolutionary history of the group was shrouded in mystery. Since 2000, a multitude of molecular and morphological work has been bringing light to the question of how different species and groups of species are related to each other. The mystery is being unravelled!

The most comprehensive higher level phylogenetic hypothesis of Nymphalidae by Wahlberg et al. (2009) suggests that there are 12 major lineages in Nymphalidae, currently considered subfamilies. The relationships of the 12 subfamilies are shown in the figure below. These relationships have been corroborated in a phylogenomic study by Espeland et al. (2018).

Family phylogeny