The closer you look, the more you see: Exploring butterfly cryptic diversity in Europe

Le 21 Avril 2023
11h30 Hybrid -online and Salle Louis Thaler, bat 22 UM

Roger Vila

Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC - Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Barcelona, Spain

Link to seminar:


Cryptic biodiversity is composed by species that are difficult or impossible to distinguish morphologically and, thus, have been incorrectly classified as a single entity. Even if this concept relies heavily on human perception biases, it is a very real and interesting fraction of biodiversity, which requires intense research to be uncovered. In this talk, I will use European butterflies as a model for discussing on cryptic species and speciation. Even in such a well-studied group, unexpected discoveries have been made in recent years, which shows that our knowledge of diversity is still incomplete. Relying on results of wide-scale genetic surveys and a series of case studies, I will try to address questions on cryptic diversity, such as: What fraction of total biodiversity it represents? How to methodologically approach the enormous descriptive task posed by its existence? How is it generated? What is its relevance for various fields? Do cryptic species display particular properties?


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