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Patterns of morphological evolution of the secondary sexual characters in butterflies of the subfamily Pyrginae (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae)

Grant number: 20/09595-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2021
Effective date (End): August 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Taxonomy of Recent Groups
Principal researcher:André Victor Lucci Freitas
Grantee:Ricardo Russo Siewert
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera) comprises one of the most diverse groups among butterflies, with more than 4000 species mostly concentering in the Neotropical region. The skippers are small to medium size butterflies, commonly known for their non-showy coloring and for presenting few conspicuous characters used in the taxonomy of Lepidoptera, a factor that may limit the study of the group. Currently the family is grouped into 12 subfamilies, and of these, Pyrginae is the second most species-rich, with more than 1000 species distributed in 105 described genera. Despite the lack of morphological synapomorphies for Pyrginae, the group is partially characterized by the presence of secondary sexual characters in most males. These characters include costal folds in the forewings and tufts of metatibial hair tufts associated with thoracic pheromone glands. However, these structures have been poorly explored in previous studies and, to date, little is known about their origin and detailed morphology. Thus, in order to propose hypotheses about the phylogenetic and evolutionary significance of secondary sexual characters in butterflies of the subfamily Pyrginae, the aim of the present project is to map, describe and perform a comparative morphological study at the macro, micro and ultrastructural level of these structures. The results will serve as a basis to understand the evolution patterns of these structures that are so little explored in Lepidoptera. Additionally, the data gathered can be used to provide morphological evidences for help in the taxonomic delimitation of the genera and species of Pyrginae. This project has a strong potential to help understand the evolutionary patterns in Hesperiidae, contributing to the knowledge of the biodiversity of butterflies. (AU)

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