Research on the British butterflies Aricia agestis, Aricia artaxerxes, and Plebejus argus

Ian Wynne and I are collaborating with the University of Leeds and Birmingham on ecology and genetics of speciation in British butterflies.  We concentrate on the brown argus / northern brown argus (Aricia agestis/artaxerxes). In northern England and Scotland Aricia artaxerxes is single-brooded (univoltine); in the South, Aricia agestis is has two broods per year (bivoltine). These two forms were traditionally regarded as subspecies, but are now treated as separate species. They also have other genetic differences, including mitochondrial DNA haplotype, which do not appear to correlate perfectly with voltinism (see map at left). We are investigating the factors keeping these two forms apart, whether they still hybridize in nature, and how the voltinism (single- versus double-brooded) correlates with genetic differences.

We also work on metapopulation biology of the silver studded blue (Plebejus argus) and other British insects.

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