image_width = 240px image_caption = The Tawny Coaster has been identified as the mysterious "Papilio terpsicore". Formerly known as "Acraea violae", it is now "A. terpsicore". regnum = Animalia phylum = Arthropoda classis = Insecta ordo = Lepidoptera familia = Nymphalidae subfamilia = Heliconiinae tribus = Acraeini genus = "Acraea" genus_authority = Fabricius, 1807 type_species = "Papilio horta" type_species_authority = Linnaeus, 1764 subdivision_ranks = Species subdivision =About 220, see text synonyms ="Alacria" Henning, 1992 "Aphanopeltis" Mabille, 1887 "Auracraea" Henning, 1993 "Aurora" Henning, 1992 ("non" Ragonot 1887: preoccupied) "Gnesia" Doubleday, 1848 "Hyalites" Doubleday, 1848 "Pareba" Doubleday, 1848 "Phanopeltis" Mabille, 1887 "Planema" Doubleday, 1848 "Rubraea" Henning, 1992 "Solenites" Mabille, 1887 "Stephenia" Henning, 1992 "Telchinia" Hübner, 1819 See references in Haaramo (2007)]
"Acraea" is a genus of brush-footed butterflies (family Nymphalidae) of the subfamilyHeliconiinae. It seems to be highly paraphyletic and has long been used as a "wastebin taxon" to unite about 220 species of anatomically conservative Acraeini. Most species assembled here are restricted to the African region, but some are found in India, Southeast Asia, and Australia.Silva-Brandão "et al." (2008)]
The foodplants of their caterpillars are usually Urticaceae or, like in most Heliconiinae, Passifloraceae. Some feed on other plants, such as Fabaceae, "Flacourtiaceae" or Violaceae. Their preferred species contain cyanogenicglycosides, which make the larvae and adults poisonous to predators. The aposematic coloration of the adults announces this, and some species are mimicked by less noxious butterflies. At least some "Acraea" are able to produce the toxins themselves.
ystematics and taxonomy
That all these species were properly placed in "Acraea" has never been generally accepted. In 1807, Johan Christian Fabricius established the genus for the Garden Acraea, described as "Papilio horta" by Carl Linnaeus in 1764, and its relatives. By and by, an increasing number of species were placed here. As early as 1848, and again in 1887 and the early 1990s, it was attempted to divide the genus into groups of closest relatives, as it was suspected that some "Acrena" might actually be closer to other genera in the tribeAcraeini.Pitkin & Jenkins (2004), Silva-Brandão "et al." (2008). See also references in Haaramo (2007)]
With increasing availability of DNA sequence data, it is confirmed that "Acraea" as loosely defined does not constitute a monophyletic group. Even before the attepts to split up "Acraena" in earnest had begun, Jacob Hübner in 1819 suggested to separate species around "Acraena serena" as "Telchinia". This name has been applied to a generally African group whose members usually feed on Urticaceae, and they had already been noted to bear some uncanny resemblances to the American "Actinote" in anatomical details. Indeed, they seem to be closer relatives of these than of the other butterflies placed in "Acrena", which usually feed on Passifloraceae and are at least in part quite close relatives of the African genus "Bematistes". Those closest to that genus might warrant separation as "Rubraea" or "Stephenia".
But while several informal "species groups" have been established, it is not clear which of these are monophyletic and how to split the apparently still paraphyletic genus further. The placement of the Garden Acraena – the type species –, and hence which of the any further subdivisions will get to bear the name "Acraena", remains unresolved. As it is traditionally included in the former "A. terpsicore" group (now "A. serena" group) and its caterpillars, while polyphagous, do not feed on Urticaceae, it may be that the separation of "Telchinia" is unwarranted and other proposed genera might be resurrected instead.
There was one major misidentification which still causes confusion today. "Acraea terpsicore", described as "Papilio terpsicore" by Linnaeus in 1758, was held to be the senior synonym of "A. serena", described by Fabricius as "Papilio serena" in 1775. Hence, the former name was commonly used for that African species. But as it turned out, Linnaeus had actually described an Indian species – the well-known Tawny Coaster. Fabricius in 1793 believed it was new to science and described it again, as "Papilio violae". Consequently it had been long known as "A. violae". It was also recognized that Fabricius' little-studied "P. serena" was none other than the Orange Acraea. For this, the name "A. eponina", from the "Papilio eponina" established in the 1780 issue of Pieter Cramer's "De uitlandsche Kapellen", had been used all the time.Silva-Brandão "et al." (2008); see also references in Haaramo (2007)]
Since the proposed phylogenetic sequence of the "species groups" is almost certainly incorrect for a large part, the groups are simply listed alphabetically.
"Acraea acrita" species group * "Acraea acrita" * "Acraea chaeribula" * "Acraea eltringhamiana" * "Acraea guluensis" * "Acraea lualabae" * "Acraea manca" * "Acraea pudorina" * "Acraea utangulensis""Acraea andromacha" species group (close to part of "A. serena" group?) * "Acraea andromacha" "Acraea anemosa" species group * "Acraea anemosa" * "Acraea pseudolycia" * "Acraea turna""Acraea aureola" species group * "Acraea aureola"
* (2004): [http://www.nhm.ac.uk/jdsml/research-curation/projects/butmoth/index.dsml Butterflies and Moths of the World: Generic Names and their Type-species] . Version of 2004-NOV-05. Retrieved 2008-AUG-15. * (2007): Markku Savela's Lepidoptera and some other life forms – [http://www.funet.fi/pub/sci/bio/life/insecta/lepidoptera/ditrysia/papilionoidea/nymphalidae/heliconiinae/acraea/index.html "Acraea"] . Version of 2007-JUN-05. Retrieved 2008-AUG-15. * (2008): Phylogenetic relationships of butterflies of the tribe Acraeini (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae, Heliconiinae) and the evolution of host plant use. "Mol. Phylogenet. Evol." 46(2): 515-531. doi|10.1016/j.ympev.2007.11.024 (HTML abstract)
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