New butterfly species identified in Yucatan peninsula

Nov 23, 2011

About 160,000 species of butterflies and moths are already known, but scientists believe that a similar number still remain undiscovered. Identification and characterization of these species can be complicated by the fact that each species has an immature caterpillar and a mature butterfly form, as well as the reliance on the physical appearance for classification.

Now, though, researchers report that a type of called "barcoding" may provide a powerful tool in this effort, according to a study published in the Nov. 16 issue of the online journal .

The researchers, led by Carmen Pozo of El Colegio de la Frontera Sur in Mexico, focused on the Yucatan peninsula population of a particular family of butterflies called Nymphalidae.

Approximately 570 species of Nymphalidae have been reported in Mexico, and 121 of these occur in the Yucatan peninsula. Using DNA barcoding, which uses the sequence of a standard short gene segment to provide information about biodiversity, they found evidence for several previously undiscovered, so-called "cryptic" species that now await characterization.

They also found four cases where specimen had been misidentified based on the appearance; these erroneous classifications were corrected based on the DNA, highlighting the potential utility of this method.

Explore further: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

More information: Prado BR, Pozo C, Valdez-Moreno M, Hebert PDN (2011) Beyond the Colours: Discovering Hidden Diversity in the Nymphalidae of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico through DNA Barcoding. PLoS ONE 6(11): e27776

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Barcoding blitz' on Australian moths and butterflies

May 05, 2011

In just 10 weeks a team of Canadian researchers has succeeded in 'barcoding' 28,000 moth and butterfly specimens – or about 65 per cent of Australia’s 10,000 known species – held at CSIRO's ...

Species detectives track unseen evolution

Jul 19, 2007

New species are evading detection using a foolproof disguise – their own unchanged appearance. Research published in the online open access journal, BMC Evolutionary Biology, suggests that the phenomenon of different animal ...

Barcodes refocus understanding of ecosystems

Aug 12, 2011

You're probably familiar with barcodes, those black and white stripes on most store items that bring about the familiar "beep" when scanned at checkout. They determine whether a scanned item is a gallon of ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.