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Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 22(4)

Taxonomy, ecology, genetics and conservation status of the pale imperial hairstreak (Jalmenus eubulus) (Lepidoptera : Lycaenidae): a threatened butterfly from the Brigalow Belt, Australia

Rod Eastwood A D E, Michael F. Braby B C, Daniel J. Schmidt A, Jane M. Hughes A

A Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith School of Environment, Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland 4111, Australia.
B Biodiversity Conservation Division, Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts, PO Box 496, Palmerston, NT 0831, Australia.
C School of Botany and Zoology, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.
D Present address: Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
E Corresponding author. Email: eastwood@fas.harvard.edu
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The taxonomic status of Jalmenus eubulus Miskin stat. rev. is revised and considered to be specifically distinct from J. evagoras (Donovan) based on fundamental differences in morphology, ecology and genetics. Miskin’s holotype is fixed by monotypy and illustrated, with type locality Rockhampton, Queensland. Fixed differences in the mitochondrial genomes of J. eubulus and J. evagoras in which the mean pairwise divergence is only 0.85% indicate absence of matrilineal gene flow, whereas allozyme data show significant structure within and between populations of both species consistent with recent diversification. Underlying causes for the observed genetic patterns are investigated. The two species are parapatric, with a narrow range of overlap along the Great Escarpment in south-eastern Queensland. Jalmenus eubulus is restricted to vegetation communities comprising brigalow-dominated old-growth open-forests and woodlands in the Brigalow Belt (with larvae monophagous on Acacia harpophylla F. Muell. Ex Benth), whereas J. evagoras occurs in a range of disturbed eucalypt woodlands/open-forests predominantly in montane and coastal areas east of this bioregion (with larvae polyphagous on Acacia species other than A. harpophylla). The conservation status of J. eubulus is considered to be vulnerable nationally and critically endangered in New South Wales according to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria. Nationally, the geographic range has an estimated area of occupancy of less than 2000 km2, is severely fragmented, and the extent or quality of its habitat, which is poorly conserved, continues to decline. It is recommended that the taxon be used as an indicator for identification of remnant old-growth forest for conservation planning, as well as a flagship for the conservation of invertebrate biodiversity associated with this threatened ecological community.

Keywords: Acacia harpophylla, allozymes, biological species concept, Haldane’s rule, hybrid zone, mitochondrial DNA, parapatry.

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