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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Hilo, Hawaii » Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center » Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #368557

Research Project: Detection, Control and Area-wide Management of Fruit Flies and Other Quarantine Pests of Tropical/Subtropical Crops

Location: Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research

Title: Genomics confirms surprising ecological divergence and isolation in an endangered butterfly

item DUPUIS, JULIAN - University Of Kentucky
item Geib, Scott
item OSBORNE, KENDALL - Osborne Biological Consulting
item RUBINOFF, DANIEL - University Of Hawaii

Submitted to: Biodiversity and Conservation Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/4/2019
Publication Date: 2/17/2020
Citation: Dupuis, J., Geib, S.M., Osborne, K., Rubinoff, D. 2020. Genomics confirms surprising ecological divergence and isolation in an endangered butterfly. Biodiversity and Conservation Journal. 29:1897-1921.

Interpretive Summary: The El Segundo Blue butterfly is an endangered butterfly living in costal habitats in Southern California. It is restricted to few sites, predominately within the highly developed Los Angeles basin. Genomic tools were used to explore population genetics and geography of the species group (Euphilotes battoides) for which it belongs, including characterization of a newly discovered population, which was found to be distinct from El Segundo Blue. Outside of El Segundo Blue and the newly discovered population, the rest of the group did not demonstrate a fine scale geographic makeup, with no clear signature associated with habitat or host specialization.

Technical Abstract: Phylogeographic patterns in phytophagous organisms are often contextualized in light of geographic isolation and ecological (host, habitat) specialization. However, assessing the relative impact of these phenomena is not straightforward, even in areas where phylogeography is well-studied, such as the California Floristic Province. Here, we use genome-wide markers to elucidate population genomic and phylgeographic patterns for a group of monophytophagous butterflies in southern California. This group is of high conservation interest because it includes the El Segundo blue, Euphilotes battoides allyni , one of the first insects listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and a newly discovered population putatively assigned to E. b. allyni. Despite using the same unique host and coastal habitat, our results indicate that the newly discovered populations are not E. b. allyni and are more closely related to geographically proximate populations of the E. battoides group using a different habitat host. Aside from E. b. allyni and the newly discovered populations, the rest of the group shows only fine-scale structure and apparently maintains genetic connectivity throughout southern California, across a vast range of habitats and climates, and on multiple hosts. Thus, habitat and host specialization did not elicit genetic isolation in neighboring populations suggesting that: 1) other phenomena are needed to explain the remarkable and idiosyncratic divergence of these highly restricted, proximate, taxa, and 2) fine-scale genomic markers suggest broader implications for understanding the mechanisms of speciation and reinvestigation of phylogeographic patterns in regions like the California Floristic Province.