Biological Invasions

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1947–1972 | Cite as

Entomological time travel: reconstructing the invasion history of the buckeye butterflies (genus Junonia) from Florida, USA

  • Melanie M. L. Lalonde
  • Jeffrey M. MarcusEmail author
Original Paper


Invasion biology examines the process by which non-native species integrate into new habitats. Three species of buckeye butterflies (genus Junonia) currently occur in Florida, USA, including Junonia coenia (polyphagous and widely distributed), J. neildi (monophagous and restricted to coastal areas), and J. zonalis (polyphagous tropical species restricted to frost-free South Florida). Two species have long been resident in Florida, whereas J. zonalis was first detected in Florida in 1981. Diagnostic morphological and molecular markers exist for determining Junonia with Caribbean ancestry, allowing observation of the invasion and creation of a secondary contact zone over space and time. We developed techniques to quickly, inexpensively, and unambiguously determine mitochondrial genotypes from museum specimens collected in Florida and the Caribbean over the last 150 years. We reconstructed the invasion of J. zonalis as it colonized Florida using 816 Junonia museum specimens from 1866 to 2016, including some of the oldest insect museum specimens ever genotyped. Significant correlations were found between the presence of Caribbean genotypes and latitude, longitude, and time. Junonia zonalis likely colonized Florida from Cuba by the 1930s, followed by hybridization with resident species, with ongoing genetic exchange between Cuba and the Florida Keys. Episodic gene flow between Florida Keys and mainland populations of J. zonalis may also be occurring. Mainland mitochondrial genotypes appear to be more resilient to extreme high and low temperatures than Caribbean genotypes. This time series in Junonia can be used as a model for understanding the process of adaptation required for successful invasion of new habitats.


Invasion biology Junonia zonalis Gene flow Hybridization Genetic population structure Museum specimen DNA 



We thank the generations of collectors for their efforts in collecting the Junonia specimens used in this study and for their generosity and foresight in donating them to public collections. We also thank the generations of museum curators who preserved these specimens for posterity. John Calhoun, Charles Covell, Carlos Cruz, Nick Gillham, Marc Minno, Fred Nijhout, and Jeff Slotten very kindly allowed us to sample tissue from specimens in their personal collections. We also owe a great debt of gratitude to the following entomology curators, collections managers, and research associates: Paul Opler and Boris Kondratieff of the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity at Colorado State University, Brian Fisher and Robert Zuparko of the California Academy of Sciences, Philip Perkins and Rachel Hawkins of the Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology, Chris Grinter of the Illinois Natural History Survey Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mark O’Brien of the LSA Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan, Andy Warren of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Jim Hayden of the Division of Plant Industry of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Gary Parsons of the Albert J. Cook Arthropod Research Collection at Michigan State University, Susan Borkin and Julia Colby of the Milwaukee Public Museum, Richard Brown and John MacDonald of the Mississippi Entomological Museum at Mississippi State University, Chris Marshall of the Oregon State Arthropod Collection, Corvallis at Oregon State University, Bob Robbins, Brian Harris, and Don Harvey of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Barb Sharonowski and Amber Bass of the Wallis Roughley Museum at the University of Manitoba, and Larry Gall of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Without the support and encouragement of these individuals, this work would not have been possible. We thank two anonymous peer reviewers for their constructive criticism of our initial manuscript submission. Melanie Lalonde received support from a Graduate Enhancement of Tricouncil Award from the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Manitoba. This project was part of a research program supported by NSERC Discovery Grants RGPIN386337-2011 and RGPIN-06012-2016 and was also supported by grants from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (212382), and the Canada Research Chair program (950-212382) (to Jeffrey Marcus).

Supplementary material

10530_2019_1948_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (84 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 84 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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