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A biogeographical analysis of the Tasmanian endemic ptunarra brown butterfly, Oreixenica ptunarra Couchman (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae)


McQuillan, PB and Ek, CJ, A biogeographical analysis of the Tasmanian endemic ptunarra brown butterfly, Oreixenica ptunarra Couchman (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae), Australian Journal of Zoology, 45, (1) pp. 21-37. ISSN 0004-959X (1997) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1071/ZO95050


Considerable geographic variation occurs in the Tasmanian endemic butterfly, Oreixenica ptunarra, and there is a high correlation between clusters of morphological characters and ecological factors, especially climate and elevation. Evidence is presented for the existence of a longitudinal cline in phenotypic characters of wing pattern and size, which is unrelated to the modest amount of variation in the male genitalia (a possible surrogate for genetic variability). Butterflies from warmer, less cloudy eastern Tasmania are larger and less dark in colour than those from the west, culminating in the small dark populations of the north-west. This suggests selection for efficiency in thermoregulation as climatic conditions become more marginal for adult activity from east to west. The prevailing subspecies classification does not fully reflect the range of variation in this species. Conservation strategies that aim to guarantee the survival of the collective phenotype of O. ptunarra based on this taxonomy are therefore misinformed. The north-west populations are disjunct geographically and in features of phenotype, but are not especially discrete in the morphology of the male genitalia. We propose that the subspecies angeli Couchman and roonina Couchman be reduced to synonymy with nominotypical ptunarra Couchman, and a new subspecies should be recognised to incorporate populations from the montane grasslands of northwestern Tasmania.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Environmental management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:McQuillan, PB (Mr Peter McQuillan)
ID Code:10544
Year Published:1997
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:1997-08-01
Last Modified:2009-12-16

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