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Population structure and genetic diversity of the only extant Baroninae swallowtail butterfly, Baronia brevicornis, revealed by ISSR markers

Abstract

Due to its relict nature, the unique Baroninae swallowtail, Baronia brevicornis, is considered a “living fossil”. It is also one of the most enigmatic butterfly species with contentious origins and peculiar ecological characteristics. The aim of this study is to evaluate the genetic diversity and population structure of this endemic species of butterfly in Mexico. We sampled populations in two areas within its restricted geographical range in central Mexico and the isolated subspecies population in the state of Chiapas. Three ISSR primers produced 66 loci, indicating a high genetic diversity (P = 100 %, H e  = 0.22) and variation range in these populations (62 % < P < 85 %, 0.18 < H e  < 0.25). The Chiapas population presented the lowest values. The observed high values can be explained by the population dynamic of this species characterized by a very high density of individuals over very limited areas. Variation between populations appears to reflect both the age of colonization and locality perturbation level. Two methods of genetic structure analysis (Self-Organizing Map and Structure analysis) match to define three clusters. Natural and anthropogenic barriers may explain the separation between two clusters (cluster 1 and 2) of central Mexico but an unexpected result revealed that the Chiapas population is not genetically distinguishable from the central Mexico populations (cluster 3) leading us to hypothesize a possible “recent” separation or anthropogenic introduction. Habitat and host plant specificity probably limits the exchange of individuals between populations thus increasing fragmentation and leading to a complex genetic structure. We should put in place population monitoring schemes at different spatial scales, combining field occurrences and genetic tools, in order to reduce extinction susceptibility and keep track of recolonization events for this enigmatic species.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Dr. Yann Hénaut from ECOSUR (el Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Chetumal, Mexico) and Celine Pélissier from the University Paul Sabatier of Toulouse (France), for their contribution in the laboratory process. Dr. Oscar Dorado (from CEAMISH, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos, Mexico) and Dr. Nestor Mariano (CIByC, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos, Mexico) are specially thanked for their valuable help in the field and useful discussions on the biology and ecology of B. brevicornis and Acacia spp. Thanks to Francisco Pérez-Espinoza for his important support in the field. Thanks to Holger Weissenberger (ECOSUR, Chetumal) for helping produce Fig. 1. We thank the “Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales” in Mexico (DOO.02-2074) for their permission to survey Baronia populations in Chiapas. Special thanks to Victor Toledo Hernández who provide us authorizations for central Mexico under the authority of the Semarnat Faut-0178 permit.

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Correspondence to Salima Machkour-M’Rabet.

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Machkour-M’Rabet, S., Leberger, R., León-Cortés, J.L. et al. Population structure and genetic diversity of the only extant Baroninae swallowtail butterfly, Baronia brevicornis, revealed by ISSR markers. J Insect Conserv 18, 385–396 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-014-9647-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-014-9647-3

Keywords

  • Papilionidae
  • Baroniinae
  • Mexico
  • ISSR
  • Population genetics
  • Conservation