Patterns of genetic and taxonomic differentiation in three Melitaea (subg. Mellicta) species (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae, Nymphalinae)

E. Bátori, K. Pecsenye, J. Bereczki, Z. Varga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


In conservation genetics the existence of Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESU) is a crucial question in threatened or vulnerable species. It is of particular concern to determine whether different subspecies or ecotypes of a species can be considered as separate ESUs. Some Melitaea subg. Mellicta species (e. g. Mellicta aurelia, Mellicta britomartis) are declining or scarce in Europe. Therefore, the level of genetic differentiation and pattern of genetic variation were surveyed in three Melitaea (subg. Mellicta) species. Their habitat requirements and food plants partly overlap; accordingly they often co-occur in the same habitat. M. britomartis and M. aurelia have one brood per year in Hungary, while Mellicta athalia has a monovoltine and a bivoltine ecotype. The purpose of the study was to estimate the number of genetically differentiated ESUs among these species in the Carpathian basin. Samples were taken from 5 Hungarian regions and a few samples were collected in Transylvania as well. Enzyme polymorphism was studied using polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The structure of genetic variation was analysed by F-statistics, AMOVA, PCA and Bayesian clustering method. UPGMA dendrogram was constructed on the basis of Cavalli-Sforza and Edwards chord distances. The three species are clearly differentiated from each other in all statistical analyses. They are evidently different Evolutionary Significant Units. The two ecotypes of M. athalia, however, do not show any genetic differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-656
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Insect Conservation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2012


  • Evolutionary Significant Unit
  • Functional Conservation Unit
  • Genetic differentiation
  • Mellicta species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Insect Science

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