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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #346891

Research Project: Systematics of Moths Significant to Biodiversity, Quarantine, and Control, with a Focus on Invasive Species

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: Acronictinae (Lepidoptera: Macroheterocera: Noctuidae) demonstrate the variable role of wing venation in the evolution of the nymphalid groundplan

item SCHACHAT, SANDRA - Stanford University
item Goldstein, Paul

Submitted to: Insect Systematics and Diversity
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/6/2018
Publication Date: 3/20/2018
Citation: Schachat, S.R., Goldstein, P.Z. 2018. Acronictinae (Lepidoptera: Macroheterocera: Noctuidae) demonstrate the variable role of wing venation in the evolution of the nymphalid groundplan. Insect Systematics and Diversity. 2(2):1-15.

Interpretive Summary: Our understanding of butterfly and moth wing patterns is based on a predictive model (the nymphalid ground plan) that has been tested for many moth groups, but not the major superfamilies of large moths. This paper represents the first such examination for the Noctuidae, traditionally considered the largest moth family. We examine species in the subfamily Acronictinae, and describe which of the patterns predicted by the nymphalid ground plan hold, specifically whether the relationship between wing pattern elements and wing veins differ from that of more primitive moths studied previously. This work is of interest to entomologists, taxonomists and developmental biologists.

Technical Abstract: The nymphalid groundplan (NGP) is an idealized system used to classify and interpret wing pattern elements of butterflies. Nearly a century ago, the principles of the NGP were applied to the wing patterns of higher moths (Macroheterocera). Recent advances in phylogeny and in the comparative morphology of microlepidopteran wing pattern both suggest promise in revisiting the relevance of the NGP to the more conspicuous and derived groups of large Lepidoptera. In the noctuid subfamily Acronictinae, wing patterns include elements corresponding to the central symmetry system, discal (reniform) spot, and parafocal elements of the NGP. Wing patterns in this lineage are also consistent with the “uniform wing-margin” model, which was hypothesized to explain the relationship between wing venation and color pattern, and which has been corroborated in various lineages of microlepidoptera. The uniform wing-margin model does not appear to hold for butterflies, however, and has not previously been evaluated in Macroheterocera. The finding that NGP-like wing patterns in Macroheterocera share features with microlepidoptera is consistent with convergence, i.e. with independent origins of "the" NGP. Furthermore this finding suggests that such superficially similar (not strictly homologous) "NGP's" may have arisen via different mechanisms corresponding to ancestral differences in the relationships between wing patterns wing venation, and can be differentiated on that basis.