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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 1994 Jun;3(2):159-74.

Phylogeny of Heliconius butterflies inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae).

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Section of Ecology and Systematics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-2701.


The genus Heliconius has been revised more than a dozen times, yet relationships among many of its species groups remain obscure. A reliable phylogenetic hypothesis is desirable, because the genus has been a model system for studies of tropical community ecology, mimicry, and ecological genetics for the last 3 decades. A new cladogram for 35 species of Heliconius and the related genera Eueides, Laparus, and Neruda is presented, based on mitochondrial sequences spanning part of the COI gene and the COII gene. The data support most traditionally recognized species groups and also the monophyly of the above four genera with respect to other heliconiine outgroups. However, Heliconius is paraphyletic with respect to the other three genera. These data will allow a reinvestigation of problematical morphological, behavioral, and cytological traits in the group.

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