The dispersal ability of a species is central to its biology, affecting other processes like local adaptation, population and community dynamics, and genetic structure. Among the intrinsic, species-specific factors that affect dispersal ability in butterflies, wingspan was recently shown to explain a high amount of variance in dispersal ability. In this study, a comparative approach was adopted to test whether a difference in wingspan translates into a difference in population genetic structure. Two closely related butterfly species from subfamily Satyrinae, family Nymphalidae, which are similar with respect to all traits that affect dispersal ability except for wingspan, were studied. Melanitis leda (wingspan 60–80 mm) and Ypthima baldus (wingspan 30–40 mm) were collected from the same areas along the Western Ghats of southern India. Amplified fragment length polymorphisms were used to test whether the species with a higher wingspan (M. leda) exhibited a more homogenous population genetic structure, as compared to a species with a shorter wingspan (Y. baldus). In all analyses, Y. baldus exhibited greater degree of population genetic structuring. This study is one of the few adopting a comparative approach to establish the relationship between traits that affect dispersal ability and population genetic structure.
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The authors would like to thank Krushnamegh Kunte and Ullasa Kodandaramaiah for discussions on the manuscript, and Jahnavi Joshi for helping with the maps. We would also like to thank the forest departments of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu for collection permits and the people who provided logistical support during field work: drivers (Sekar and Kumar), and field assistants at each collection site. This work was supported by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India grant to KPK (Grant number: BT/24/NE/TBP/2010).
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Sekar, S., Karanth, K.P. Does size matter? Comparative population genetics of two butterflies with different wingspans. Org Divers Evol 15, 567–575 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13127-015-0214-x
- Amplified fragment length polymorphisms
- Dispersal ability
- Population genetic structure
- Western Ghats