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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Ryan I. Hill

First Committee Member

Zachary Stahlschmidt

Second Committee Member

Tara Thiemann


The tropics are host to incredible insect diversity. One of the most charismatic groups that exhibit this diversity are the butterflies. Despite the tropical butterfly fauna being heavily researched, there remains much hidden diversity in the form of undescribed life histories and cryptic species. This is especially true among the species rich Nymphalidae, the brush-footed butterflies. Species in the genus Adelpha are known to be “the most trying taxonomically of all nymphalids” DeVries (1987), and as such are fruitful ground for uncovering unknown diversity. About half of the species within Adelpha have undescribed life histories, while A. serpa stands out within the genus in having remarkably wide host breadth, and thus potentially harbors cryptic diversity. Here we describe the life histories of two species of Adelpha from Costa Rica, and use an integrative approach to clarify species level boundaries within the Adelpha serpa-group. We conclude that A. serpa does not show significant evidence of harboring cryptic species, and appears to be a geographically widespread species and a hostplant generalist. Three additional species within the serpa-group show strong evidence of harboring cryptic species, and further research should be done to clarify these species relationships.



Included in

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