The subspecies concept in butterflies: has its application in taxonomy and conservation biology outlived its usefulness?

  title={The subspecies concept in butterflies: has its application in taxonomy and conservation biology outlived its usefulness?},
  author={Michael F. Braby and Rod Eastwood and Neil D. Murray},
  journal={Biological Journal of The Linnean Society},
Subspecies lie at the interface between systematics and population genetics, and represent a unit of biological organization in zoology that is widely used in the disciplines of taxonomy and conservation biology. In this review, we explore the utility of subspecies in relation to their application in systematics and biodiversity conservation, and briefly summarize species concepts and criteria for their diagnosis, particularly from an invertebrate perspective. The subspecies concept was… 

Analytical approaches to subspecies delimitation with genetic data

It is concluded that diagnosability is best estimated with either assignment tests or multivariate methods, while evaluating the degree of divergence requires a synthesis of multiple lines of evidence derived from different analytical methods and different data types, including nongenetic data.

Integrative revision of Dianthus superbus subspecies reveals different degrees of differentiation, from plasticity to species distinction

This integrative study tested the evolutionary support of the four contested subspecies of Dianthus superbus, finding that in Europe, phylogenetic markers only slightly distinguish West from Central European samples, without support for subspecies.

The taxonomic basis of subspecies listed as threatened and endangered under the endangered species act

More than 170 subspecies are listed as threatened or endangered under the US Endangered Species Act. Most of these subspecies were described decades ago on the basis of geographical variation in

Subspecies definitions and legislation: from eastern wallaroo (Osphranter robustus robustus) to euro (Osphranter robustus erubescens)

  • B. Richardson
  • Biology, Environmental Science
    Australian Mammalogy
  • 2019
The ecological approach is considered preferable for subspecies and the present taxonomy is maintained, and a potential location of the boundary between the wallaroo subspecies is proposed.

The evolution of Bolbites onitoides (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Phanaeini): its phylogenetic significance, geographical polychromatism and the subspecies problem

It is concluded that B. onitoides should continue to be treated as a single monotypic species and an evolutionary scenario where the role of the iridescence in sexual selection, as hypothesized in a previous work, may be an exaptation, not an adaptation, among the horned Phanaeina.

The conundrum of subspecies: morphological diversity among desert populations of the California vole (Microtus californicus, Cricetidae)

Examination of morphological and molecular data sets within and among 5 subspecies of the California vole finds an emended diagnosis of each subspecies using the criteria established by Willi Hennig in his 1966 assessment of the qualities and characteristics of infraspecific taxa.

Are subspecies (of Eira barbara) real?

The subspecies concept is one of the most controversial in Linnean taxonomy. In the past, subspecies were described without a clear conceptual framework, triggering confusion and motivating criticism

Molecular phylogeny of the tribe Candalidini (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae): systematics, diversification and evolutionary history

A dated phylogeny and biogeographical and habitat analyses based on the DEC model in BioGeoBEARS indicated that the ancestor of the Candalidini most likely evolved in rainforest habitats of the mesic biome in situ on the Australian plate of Southern Gondwana during the Eocene.

Genetic variation corroborates subspecific delimitation in the Namib fog-basking beetle, Onymacris unguicularis (Haag) (Tenebrionidae, Coleoptera)

Genetic data identify southern and northern populations as distinct lineages, corroborate morphometric data regarding subspecific delimitation, and therefore support the recognition of O. unguicularis and O. u.



The role of subspecies in obscuring avian biological diversity and misleading conservation policy

  • R. Zink
  • Environmental Science, Biology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 2004
A massive reorganization of classifications is required so that the lowest ranks, be they species or subspecies, reflect evolutionary diversity and until such reorganization is accomplished, the subspecies rank will continue to hinder progress in taxonomy, evolutionary studies and especially conservation.

Geographic Variation and the Subspecies Concept in Butterflies

The pro's and con's of a trinomial system for zoological nomenclature in the last few years are argued and some of the more exhaustive studies that have been published on butterfly subspeciation are taken stock.

Quantitative criteria for species delimitation

This work develops quantitative methods for a classic technique in systematic zoology, namely the use of divergence between undisputed sympatric species as a yardstick for assessing the taxonomic status of allopatric forms, which can be applied to the global avifauna to deliver taxonomic decisions with a high level of objectivity, consistency and transparency.

Taxonomy, ecology, genetics and conservation status of the pale imperial hairstreak (Jalmenus eubulus) (Lepidoptera : Lycaenidae): a threatened butterfly from the Brigalow Belt, Australia

It is recommended that the taxon be used as an indicator for identification of remnant old-growth forest for conservation planning, as well as a flagship for the conservation of invertebrate biodiversity associated with this threatened ecological community.

Do taxonomic divisions reflect genetic differentiation? A comparison of morphological and genetic data in Coenonympha tullia (Müller), Satyrinae

The notion that wing spot variation reflects population isolation and therefore genetic differentiation does not hold and the need for genetic data is highlighted where taxonomy may be based on environmentally plastic or locally adapted characters because such characters will not reflect the true population genetic history.

Testing Species Boundaries in Biodiversity Studies

This paper suggests that this paper is fundamentally flawed because it fails to present any species concept as a testable hypothesis, and recommends the following procedures for implementation of lineage-based species concepts within a rigorous hypothesis testing framework.

Species concepts, species boundaries and species identification: a view from the tropics.

It is surprising that species are currently used mostly as terminal taxa in the reconstruction of phylogenetic trees, whereas the methods by which they are delimited and identified receive scant attention in the field of systematics.

Current practice in the use of subspecies, variety, and forma in the classification of wild plants

It is imperative that more authors state briefly their philosophy of infraspecific taxonomy so their classifications may be interpreted more clearly.

Diagnosing Units of Conservation Management

This work favors a definition for evolutionarily significant units based on patterns of variation, which would be the basis for the evaluation of these units in practical conservation situations.

A role for molecular genetics in the recognition and conservation of endangered species.

  • J. Avise
  • Biology, Environmental Science
    Trends in ecology & evolution
  • 1989