Aim: A database based on distributional records of Eurasian Zephyrus hairstreaks (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Theclini) was compiled to analyse their areas of endemism (AoEs), species richness and distribution patterns, to explore their locations of past glacial refugia and dispersal routes.
Methods: Over 2000 Zephyrus hairstreaks occurrences are analysed using the NDM/VNDM algorithm, for the recognition of AoEs. Species richness was calculated by using the option 'Number of different classes' to count the different classes of a variable presented in each 3.0°×3.0° grid cell, and GIS software was used to visualize distribution patterns of endemic species.
Results: Centres of species richness of Zephyrus hairstreaks are situated in the eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (EQTP), Hengduan Mountain Region (HDMR) and the Qinling Mountain Region (QLMR). Latitudinal gradients in species richness show normal distribution with the peak between 25° N and 35° N in the temperate zone, gradually decreasing towards the poles. Moreover, most parts of central and southern China, especially the area of QLMR-EQTP-HDMR, were identified as AoEs that may have played a significant role as refugia during Quaternary global cooling. There are four major distributional patterns of Zephyrus hairstreaks in Eurasia: Sino-Japanese, Sino-Himalayan, high-mountain and a combined distribution covering all three patterns.
Conclusions: Zephyrus hairstreaks probably originated at least 23-24 Myr ago in E. Asia between 25° N to 35° N in the temperate zone. Cenozoic orogenies caused rapid speciation of this tribe and extrusion of the Indochina block resulted in vicariance between the Sino-Japanese and the Sino-Himalayan patterns. The four distribution patterns provided two possible dispersal directions: Sino-Japanese dispersal and Sino-Himalayan dispersal.