Tuesday, 16 November 2004 - 1:10 PM

Evolution of aposematism in the moth group Dioptinae (Noctuoidea: Notodontidae)

James Miller, Hairmuler@aol.com, American Museum of Natural History, Division of Invertebrate Zoology, Central Park West @ 79th, New York, NY

The neotropical moth subfamily Dioptinae (Notodontidae), with roughly 400 species, presents a bewildering array of wing patterns. Unlike typical notodontids, most dioptines are diurnal and their wings are brilliantly colored with bold patterns similar to those in butterflies. Other dioptines are nocturnal with more cryptic wing patterning, giving them an appearance reminiscent of some Geometridae. A newly revised classification for the Dioptinae reveals a complex picture of wing pattern evolution. The Dioptinae comprises two tribes Josiini (100 species) and Dioptini (300 species). All Josiini are diurnal, with wings marked with bold yellow, orange or white bands on a black background. Wing pattern evolution has apparently followed a model uncommon among Lepidoptera, but similar to that in Heliconius butterflies: Large black areas of the wing are formed by fusion of smaller pattern elements (Nijhout, 1991). Interestingly, an extremely rare wing pattern type, presence of yellow or orange longitudinal stripes, has evolved at least twice within the Josiini. The tribe Dioptini is more complex. The diversity of wing patterns and colors is tremendous. However, the mode of pattern formation is fundamentally different from that in Josiini. The Dioptini appear to have evolved following the Nymphalid Ground Plan (Nijhout, 2003), common in Lepidoptera. Phylogenetic study of the Dioptini indicates that this model has afforded the group phenomenal capacity for evolutionary change in wing pattern. Dramatic differences appear to have evolved rapidly, and convergence is rampant; transparent wings, for example, have evolved no fewer than five times within the tribe.

Species 1: Lepidoptera Notodontidae
Keywords: aposematism

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