Overview

Brief Summary

Introduction

Introduction:

Having received tremendous attention from both collectors and taxonomists, Parnassius butterflies are among the most well studied butterflies in alpine zones. The region of greatest diversity of Parnassius is the eastern Palaearctic, from Pakistan to central Asia and China. A few species extend as far as Europe, Japan, and into the Nearctic (Weiss, 1991, 1995).

The caterpillars of Parnassius, like other swallowtails, possess the peculiar structure known as an osmeterium at the back of their head. They feed on various members of Crassulaceae and Papaveraceae. Isolation of Parnassius populations in various mountain ranges has resulted in differentiation and subsequent description of numerous subspecies, varieties and forms (e.g. Bryk, 1935).

Many detailed books and checklists have been published on the taxonomy of Parnassius (e.g. see Weiss, 1991-2005; Tshikolovets, 1998-2003); these books usually offer high quality images and color maps, and illustrate a substantial range of morphological variability for many of the species of Parnassius.

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Introduction

Having received tremendous attention from both collectors and taxonomists, Parnassius butterflies are among the most well studied butterflies in alpine zones. The region of greatest diversity of Parnassius is the eastern Palaearctic, from Pakistan to central Asia and China. A few species extend as far as Europe, Japan, and into the Nearctic (Weiss, 1991, 1995).

The caterpillars of Parnassius, like other swallowtails, possess the peculiar structure known as an osmeterium at the back of their head. They feed on various members of Crassulaceae and Papaveraceae. Isolation of Parnassius populations in various mountain ranges has resulted in differentiation and subsequent description of numerous subspecies, varieties and forms (e.g. Bryk, 1935).

Many detailed books and checklists have been published on the taxonomy of Parnassius (e.g. see Weiss, 1991-2005; Tshikolovets, 1998-2003); these books usually offer high quality images and color maps, and illustrate a substantial range of morphological variability for many of the species of Parnassius.

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Comprehensive Description

Taxonomy

Despite growing interest, the exact number of “species” within Parnassius remains disputed, as more recent checklists present conflicting numbers, ranging from 38 (UNEP-WCMC, 2006) to 47 (Weiss 1991). Many of these species, however, are morphologically very similar.

Eight subgenera are generally recognized within Parnassius, as follows (in chronological order; from Bryk, 1935; Häuser et al., 2005; Savela, 2005):

  • Subgenus Parnassius Latreille, 1804. Type species: Papilio apollo Linnaeus, 1758.
  • Subgenus Koramius Moore, [1902]. Type species: Parnassius delphius Eversmann, 1840.
  • Subgenus Tadumia Moore, [1902]. Type species: Papilio acco Gray, 1852.
  • Subgenus Kailasius Moore, [1902]. Type species: Parnassius charltonius Gray, 1852.
  • Subgenus Eukoramius Bryk, 1935. Type species: Parnassius imperator Oberthür, 1883.
  • Subgenus Lingamius Bryk, 1935. Type species: Parnassius hardwickii Gray, 1831.
  • Subgenus Driopa Korshunov, 1988. Type species: Papilio mnemosyne Linnaeus, 1758.
  • Subgenus Sachaia Korshunov, 1988. Type species: Parnassius tenedius Eversmann, 1851.

All of these genus-level names, together with a few others that are generally overlooked (e.g. Erythrodriopa Korshunov, 1988; Adoritis Koçak, 1989; Quinhaicus Korshonov, 1990, and Kreizbergius Korshunov, 1990), have been synonymized with Parnassius (Munroe, 1961; Hesselbarth et al., 1995), although they are still used to designate “species-groups” within the genus (Omoto et al., 2004; Häuser et al., 2005). More recent treatments are confined to grouping Parnassius species under a number of species-groups that may not correspond to the subgeneric classification (Weiss, 1991-2005; Tshikolovets, 1998-2003). The number of species included in each of these subgenera (or species-groups) varies in checklists (e.g. see Bryk, 1935; Häuser et al., 2005).

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Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

View Parnassius Tree

Phylogeny after Omoto et al. (2004) based on mitochondrial ND5 gene (777 bp, maximum parsimony). The tree shown here is better resolved and encompasses a larger number of species compared to the phylogeny proposed by Katoh et al. (2005) based on ND1 and 16S, which also has a somewhat different topology.

Two molecular studies have been published on the phylogeny of the genus Parnassius (Omoto et al., 2004; Katoh et al., 2005). Omoto et al. looked at 777 bp of the mitochondrial ND5 gene in a large number of Parnassius speicies, and Katoh et al. used mitochondrial 16S ribosomal RNA (504 bp) and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 1 (469 bp) in a smaller number of species. Both of these studies recover several well-supported clusters of species-groups that to some degree correspond to those previously recognized based on morphological characters (e.g. Hancock, 1983), but fail to resolve the deeper phylogenetic relationships among them.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:866Public Records:558
Specimens with Sequences:855Public Species:66
Specimens with Barcodes:817Public BINs:57
Species:84         
Species With Barcodes:83         
          
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Barcode data

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Parnassius

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Conservation

Conservation Status

Conservation

Some European countries have local regulations protecting their Parnassius species (P. mnemosyne, P. phoebus and P. apollo) (Collins and Morris, 1985). The well-known species, P. apollo, is extinct in some European countries but is relatively common in other parts of its range. It is the only species covered by CITES, despite the fact that numerous other species of Parnassius are in need of immediate attention (Collins and Morris, 1985).

Even the more common Parnassius species in Asia comprise many local subspecies and distinct populations, many of which are extremely vulnerable and on the verge of extinction. Some highly endangered Parnassius include P. arcticus, P. ariadne, P. boedromius, P. cardinal, P. felderi, P. loxias, P. patricius, P. simo, P. simonius, and nearly all Tibetan species; some of these species are listed in Red Data Books for Russia, Yakutia or Tajikistan (Dinets, 2002). Many species are known from only a few specimens, and several have been rare in collection for decades, including Parnassius autocrator which inhabits the northern part of the Hindukush district in Afghanistan and Tajikistan (Weiss, 1991).

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Wikipedia

Parnassius

Parnassius is a genus of northern circumpolar and montane (alpine and Himalayan) butterflies usually known as Apollos. They can vary in colour and form significantly based on their altitude. They also show an adaptation to high altitudes called altitudinal melanism. They show dark bodies and darkened colouration at the wingbase which helps them warm faster using the sun.

Although classified under the Swallowtail butterfly family, none of the Parnassius species possess tails.

The larvae feed on species of plants belonging to the Papaveraceae and Crassulaceae families, and like the other swallowtail butterfly larvae, possess an osmeterium.[1] Unlike most butterflies that have exposed pupae, they pupate inside a loose silken cocoon.

Identification and ecology[edit]

Species differences in female genitalia
Sphragis (mating plug) in female Parnassius apollo.

The Parnassius species of butterflies are often hard to identify and can sometimes only be identified by dissection of the genitalia.[2] The phylogeny of the group is still under study using molecular techniques. The exact number of species within the genus is disputed and numbers range from 38 to 47.[3]

The Parnassius butterflies also have a peculiar reproductive strategy in that the male has special accessory glands that produce a mating plug that seals the female genitalia after mating. This is believed to ensure the success of the male and to prevent other males from mating and avoids sperm competition.[4]

Butterflies of this genus have been widely used models to study metapopulations, population genetics and gene flow. Their patchy distribution and restricted migration makes them vulnerable to the effects of genetic drift and considerable colour variations can exist in individuals from different regions.[5][6]

Synonymy[edit]

Parnassinae
Parnassiini

Hypermnestra



Parnassius



Luehdorfiini


Archon



Doritites bosniackii




Luehdorfia



Zerythiini

Sericinus




Bhutanitis




Zerynthia



Allancastria






? Thaites



A proposed phylogeny of the Parnassius and related groups.[7]

Eight subgenera are recognized within the genus.

Other names that are no longer valid include

  • Parnassis Hübner, [1819]; Verz. bekannter Schmett. (6): 90 (or missp. or emend.?), Type Species: Papilio apollo Linnaeus
  • Therius Billberg, 1820; Enum. Ins. Mus. Billb.: 75, Type Species: Papilio apollo Linnaeus
  • Doritis Fabricius, 1807; Magazin f. Insektenk. (Illiger) 6: 283, Type Species: Papilio apollo Linnaeus

Important collections[edit]

  • National Museum of Natural History Leiden, (Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie) Curt Eisner collection. Types listed in Eisner, C. Parnassiidae-Typen in der Sammlung J.C.Eisner. Leiden. E.J.Brill, 1966. 190 pp. Col.frontispiece & 84 plts.(Zool.Verh. RMNH, 81). Review of worldwide species of Parnassiidae, 719 taxa included.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Katoh T, Chichvarkhin A, Yagi T,Omoto K. 2005 Phylogeny and evolution of butterflies of the genus Parnassius: inferences from mitochondrial 16S and ND1 sequences. Zoolog Sci.22(3):343-51 PDF
  2. ^ Ackery PR (1975) A guide to the genera and species of Parnassiinae (Lepidoptera:Papilionidae). Bull. Br. Mus. nat. Hist. (Ent.) 31, 4 pdf
  3. ^ Nazari, Vazrick. 2006. Parnassius Latreille, 1804. Version 07 July 2006 (under construction). [1] in The Tree of Life Web Project, [2] shows Cladogram
  4. ^ Ehrlich, A. H. and P. R. Ehrlich. 1978. Reproductive strategies in the butterflies: I. Mating frequency, plugging, and egg number. J. Kansas Entomol. Soc. 51: 666-697.
  5. ^ Dechaine,Eric G. , Andrew P. Martin. 2004. Historic Cycles Of Fragmentation And Expansion In Parnassius smintheus (Papilionidae) Inferred Using Mitochondrial DNA. Evolution, 58(1):113–127
  6. ^ Keyghobadi, N., Roland, J. and Strobeck, C. 1999. Influence of landscape on the population genetic structure of the alpine butterfly Parnassius smintheus (Papilionidae). Molecular Ecology 8: 1481–1495.
  7. ^ Nazari, V., Zakharov, E.V., and Sperling, F.A.H., 2007. Phylogeny, historical biogeography, and taxonomic ranking of Parnassiinae (Lepidoptera, Papilionidae) based on morphology and seven genes. Molecular phylogenetics and Evolution, 42: 131-156. pdf

Conservation

  • Collins, N.M., Morris, M.G., IUCN, 1985 Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World: the IUCN Red Data Book (1985) IUCN pdf

Further reading[edit]

  • Glassberg, Jeffrey Butterflies through Binoculars, The West (2001)
  • Guppy, Crispin S. and Shepard, Jon H. Butterflies of British Columbia (2001)
  • James, David G. and Nunnallee, David Life Histories of Cascadia Butterflies (2011)
  • Pelham, Jonathan Catalogue of the Butterflies of the United States and Canada (2008)
  • Pyle, Robert Michael The Butterflies of Cascadia (2002)
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