NymphalinaeNiklas Wahlberg and Andrew V. Z. Brower
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Nymphalinae comprises about 500 species distributed around the world. Several species in the group have been studied intensively, such as the checkerspots (Euphydryas and Melitaea), buckeyes (Junonia) and comma butterflies (Polygonia). The circumscription of Nymphalinae has enjoyed a dynamic history as various authors have considered various groups of species to represent core nymphalids. The current circumscription was partially suggested by Harvey (1991), with Wahlberg et al. (2005) including Coeini in the subfamily. The host plants of Nymphalinae are mainly in the families Urticaceae, Asteraceae, Acanthaceae, Plantaginaceae and Scrophulariaceae.
Wahlberg (2006) used fossil evidence and molecular data to arrive at an age of about 65 million years for the subfamily (not including Coeini which suffers from long branch problems). This age is surprisingly old (the age of butterflies has long been thought to be about 70 million years), but suggests that the great extinction event at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary (best known for the point in time when the dinosaurs went extinct) has had a significant effect on the evolution of butterflies.
Harvey, D. J. 1991. Higher classification of the Nymphalidae, Appendix B. Pages 255-273 in The Development and Evolution of Butterfly Wing Patterns (H. F. Nijhout, ed.) Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC.
Wahlberg, N. 2006. That awkward age for butterflies: insights from the age of the butterfly subfamily Nymphalinae. Systematic Biology 55:703-714.
Wahlberg, N., A. V. Z. Brower, and S. Nylin. 2005. Phylogenetic relationships and historical biogeography of tribes and genera in the subfamily Nymphalinae (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 86:227-251.
About This Page
University of Turku, Finland
Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA
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- First online 25 September 2006
Citing this page:
Wahlberg, Niklas and Andrew V. Z. Brower. 2023. Nymphalinae http://tolweb.org/Nymphalinae/12195/2023.03.29 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Version 29 March 2023 (under construction).