Species richness of Eurasian Zephyrus hairstreaks (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Theclini) with implications on historical biogeography: An NDM/VNDM approach

PLoS One. 2018 Jan 19;13(1):e0191049. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191049. eCollection 2018.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ecosystem
  • Geography*
  • Humans
  • Lepidoptera / classification*
  • Species Specificity
  • Tibet

Grant support

This work was supported Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) (No. 26440207 to MY), (http://www.um.u-tokyo.ac.jp/people/faculty_yago.html). This funder provided the idea, fund and resources and participated writing original draft and revision. This work was also supported by the Chinese National Natural Science Foundation (No. 40971037 to MW). This funder provided the idea, fund, resource and participated filed survey, confirmed test. Lastly, it was funded by the CSC (China Scholarship Council, Liujinfa [2015] 3022 to HZ. This funder conducted almost all aspects of this research expect, resources and validation.