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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Potential influence of Mesozoic and Tertiary tectonics on the evolution of European Hepialidae (Lepidoptera)

  • Author(s): Grehan, John
  • Knyazev, Svyatoslav
  • et al.

The distributions of genera and species of Hepialidae in Europe are documented and mapped, along with species distributions extending to eastern Asia. Patterns of species allopatry in Korscheltellus, Pharmacis, and Triodia are consistent with vicariance resulting from late Cretaceous and early Cenozoic tectonics along the Alpine-Mediterranean Mobile Belt. Widespread northern and sympatric distributions are interpreted as the result of range expansion at the end of the Pleistocene. We suggest that the origin of high elevation endemic species of Hepialidae, particularly in the European Alps, is the result of passive tectonic uplift. Pleistocene cooling and glaciation is seen as responsible for extinction of populations in northern Europe, but without discernible impact on divergence. Absence of the northern Eurasian Hepialidae further south is attributed to an original Laurasian ancestral distribution in the Mesozoic. Fossil-calibrated divergence estimates generate minimum clade ages only, and current estimates for some European Hepialidae probably considerably underestimate their phylogenetic age.


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