Genomic data indicate ubiquitous evolutionary distinctiveness among populations of California metalmark butterflies

Julian R. Dupuis, Jeffrey C. Oliver, Bryan M.T. Brunet, Travis Longcore, Jana J. Johnson, Felix A.H. Sperling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Conservation geneticists have argued that evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) must be both genetically distinct and adaptively significant to be recognized for conservation protection. High-throughput DNA approaches can greatly increase the power to identify genetic distinctiveness, even if inferring adaptive significance remains a challenge. Here we present the first genomic evaluation of Lange’s metalmark, Apodemia mormo langei (Lepidoptera: Riodinidae), a U.S. federally endangered subspecies restricted to sand dune habitats in a single National Wildlife Refuge in California. Previous work based on very few genetic markers detected little genetic distinction for Lange’s metalmark. We use several thousand genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms to characterize the population structure of the A. mormo complex across California and determine if Lange’s metalmark qualifies as an ESU. We found that Lange’s metalmark is genetically identifiable, but is no more distinct than many other isolated populations across the study area. It remains unclear whether this genetic variation is adaptive, and so conservation efforts would benefit from more ecological characterization to determine conservation priorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1108
Number of pages12
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Nature B.V.


  • Apodemia mormo langei
  • Conservation genetics
  • ESU
  • Evolutionarily significant unit
  • Genomics
  • Lepidoptera

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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