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Research in my laboratory focuses on the ecology, evolution, biogeography, and conservation of butterflies and other organisms in Southeast Asia.

In terms of number of species, number of individuals, or sheer biomass, insects are the dominant multicellular organisms inhabiting the planet's terrestrial biomes. Of the 30+ orders of insects, the taxonomy, distribution, and habits of the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) are perhaps best characterized, making this group well suited to comparative analyses.

Current research focuses on several inter-related themes: 1) ButterflyNet: integrating butterfly traits, distributions and phylogenomics; 2) the phylogeography of butterflies and other organisms across the Indo-Australian Archipelago; and 3) the evolution of mimicry in Elymnias (Nymphalidae: Satyrinae) and other butterflies .

ButterflyNet: An integrative framework for comparative biology
The world is crawling with insects, many of which play crucial roles as pollinators, prey, mutualists, and critical components of ecosystem health. Despite their significance, insects remain understudied, imposing major limitations on our understanding of the patterns and processes in insect ecology and evolution. Butterflies are the exception, however, thanks to the efforts of centuries of collectors and enthusiasts who have appreciated their beauty and fascinating biology. More is known about their morphology, species distributions, behavior, and larval resources than any other insect group. However, this information needs to be synthesized, placed in an evolutionary context, and made available for research. This project will achieve these two goals by reconstructing the evolutionary history of the approximately 19,000+ described species and assembling a database of biological information about each species using field guides, social media, collections, and other sources.

This project has produced a set of tools and databases for comparative studies of butterflies. At the heart of the project is the assembly of a molecular phylogeny incorporating all known butterfly species. Model-based inference examines the complexity of speciation, extinction, biogeography, and trait evolution. Existing locality data has been assembled from museum collections, inventories, citizen science monitoring networks, and expert knowledge to model species distributions using the integrative Map of Life framework and produce a global checklist of butterflies in each country. Species trait data have already been assembled for some groups and regions, but this project will create a consistent, harmonized trait database while also closing major gaps to create a globally comprehensive compilation of trait data on species life history, interactions, ecology, and distributions.

Relevant Publications
Braby, M. F., M. Espeland, C. J. Muller, R. Eastwood, D. J. Lohman, A. Y. Kawahara, S. C. Maunsell, and N. E. Pierce. 2020. Molecular phylogeny of the tribe Candalidini (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae): Systematics, diversification and evolutionary history. Systematic Entomology 45:703-722.[Abstract]

Espeland, M., Breinholt, J., Willmott, K.R., Warren, A.D., Vila, R., Toussaint, E.F.A., Maunsell, S.C., Aduse-Poku, K., Talavera, G., Eastwood, R., Jarzyna, M.A., Guralnick, R., Lohman, D.J., Pierce, N.E. & Kawahara, A.Y. 2018. A comprehensive and dated phylogenomic analysis of butterflies. Current Biology 28, 770-778. [Abstract]

Kawahara, A.Y., J.W. Breinholt, M. Espeland, C. Storer, D. Plotkin, K. Dexter, E. Toussaint, R. St. Laurent, G. Brehm, S. Vargas, D. Forero, N.E. Pierce, & D.J. Lohman. 2018. Phylogenetics of moth-like butterflies (Hedylidae) based on a new 13-locus target capture probe set. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 127:600-605 [Abstract]

Kawahara, A. Y., C. Storer, A. P. S. Carvalho, D. M. Plotkin, F. Condamine, M. P. Braga, E. A. Ellis, R. A. St Laurent, X. Li, V. Barve, L. Cai, C. Earl, P. B. Frandsen, H. L. Owens, W. A. Valencia-Montoya, K. Aduse-Poku, E. F. A. Toussaint, K. M. Dexter, T. Doleck, A. Markee, R. Messcher, Y. L. Nguyen, J. A. T. Badon, H. A. Benítez, M. F. Braby, P. A. C. Buenavente, W.-P. Chan, S. C. Collins, R. A. R. Childers, E. Dankowicz, R. Eastwood, Z. F. Fric, R. J. Gott, J. P. W. Hall, W. Hallwachs, N. B. Hardy, R. L. H. Sipe, A. Heath, J. D. Hinolan, N. T. Homziak, Y.-F. Hsu, Y. Inayoshi, M. G. A. Itliong, D. H. Janzen, I. J. Kitching, K. Kunte, G. Lamas, M. J. Landis, E. A. Larsen, T. B. Larsen, J. V. Leong, V. Lukhtanov, C. A. Maier, J. I. Martinez, D. J. Martins, K. Maruyama, S. C. Maunsell, N. O. Mega, A. Monastyrskii, A. B. B. Morais, C. J. Müller, M. A. K. Naive, G. Nielsen, P. S. Padron, D. Peggie, H. P. Romanowski, S. Sá\afian, M. Saito, S. Schröder, V. Shirey, D. Soltis, P. Soltis, A. Sourakov, G. Talavera, R. Vila, P. Vlasanek, H. Wang, A. D. Warren, K. R. Willmott, M. Yago, W. Jetz, M. A. Jarzyna, J. W. Breinholt, M. Espeland, L. Ries, R. P. Guralnick, N. E. Pierce, and D. J. Lohman. 2022. Evolution and diversification dynamics of butterflies. bioRxiv:2022.2005.2017.491528.[Full Text]

Pinkert, S., V. Barve, R. Guralnick, and W. Jetz. 2022. Global geographical and latitudinal variation in butterfly species richness captured through a comprehensive country-level occurrence database. Global Ecology and Biogeography 31:830–839.[Abstract]

Sahoo, R.K., Lohman, D.J., Wahlberg, N., Muller, C.J., Brattstrom, O., Collins, S.C., Peggie, D., Aduse-Poku, K. & Kodandaramaiah, U. 2018. Evolution of Hypolimnas butterflies (Nymphalidae): Out-of-Africa origin and Wolbachia-mediated introgression. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 123, 50-58. [Abstract]

Shirey, V., E. Larsen, A. Doherty, C. A. Kim, F. T. Al-Sulaiman, J. D. Hinolan, M. A. K. Naive, M. G. A. Itliong, M. A. K. Naive, M. Ku, M. Belitz, G. Jeschke, V. Barve, G. Lamas, A. Y. Kawahara, R. Guralnick, N. Pierce, D. J. Lohman, and L. Ries. In review. A globally comprehensive dataset of butterfly traits. Scientific Data.

Toussaint, E. F. A., E. A. Ellis, R. J. Gott, A. D. Warren, K. M. Dexter, C. Storer, D. J. Lohman, and A. Y. Kawahara. 2021. Historical biogeography of Heteropterinae skippers via Beringian and post-Tethyan corridors. Zoologica Scripta 50:100-111.[Abstract]

Toussaint, E.F.A., J.W. Breinholt, C.E. Cason, A.D. Warren, M. Yago, M. Espeland, N.E. Pierce, D.J. Lohman & A.Y. Kawahara. 2018. Anchored phylogenomics illuminates the skipper butterfly tree of life (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea: Hesperiidae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 18:101. [Full Text]

Toussaint, E. F. A., H. Chiba, M. Yago, K. M. Dexter, A. D. Warren, C. Storer, D. J. Lohman, and A. Y. Kawahara. 2021. Afrotropics on the wing: Phylogenomics and historical biogeography of awl and policeman skippers. Systematic Entomology 46:172-185.[Abstract]

Toussaint, E.F.A., R. Vila, M. Yago, H. Chiba, A.D. Warren, K. Aduse-Poku, C. Storer, K. M. Dexter, K. Maruyama, D.J. Lohman, & A.Y. Kawahara. 2019. Out-of-Orient: Post-Tethyan transoceanic and trans-Arabian routes fostered the spread of Baorini skippers in the Afrotropics. Systematic Entomology 44:926-938.[Abstract]

Valencia-Montoya, W. A., T. B. Quental, J. F. R. Tonini, G. Talavera, J. D. Crall, G. Lamas, R. C. Busby, A. P. S. Carvalho, A. B. Morais, N. Oliveira Mega, H. P. Romanowski, M. A. Liénard, S. Salzman, M. R. L. Whitaker, A. Y. Kawahara, D. J. Lohman, R. K. Robbins, and N. E. Pierce. 2021. Evolutionary trade-offs between male secondary sexual traits revealed by a phylogeny of the hyperdiverse tribe Eumaeini (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 288:20202512.[Abstract]

Phylogeography of Volant Animals in Southeast Asia
Studies of island biogeography and geographical vicariance have been instrumental in understanding the spatial distribution of biodiversity. The Indo-Australian Archipelago (IAA) in Southeast Asia comprises thousands of islands and is divided by one of the most abrupt biogeographical transitions in the world: Wallace's Line. It is perhaps for these reasons that Alfred R. Wallace's nineteenth century observations in the IAA stimulated the development of biogeography (or zoogeography) as a field of study. Until recently, pragmatic considerations hindered the application of methodological advances made in other regions to the study of biogeography in the IAA, despite its suitability as a natural laboratory. However, the past decade has seen a flurry of renewed investigation, including a number of studies on the geology of the region and molecular phylogenetic investigations of the organisms that inhabit it.

I have investigated the phylogeography of several widespread butterfly and bird species found on many of the region's major land masses, and found that some populations of these "widespread" species are distinct enough to merit recognition as distinct species. In addition, I uncovered novel spatial patterns of genetic variation and Wolbachia infection across the IAA.

Relevant Publications
Lohman, D.J., D. Peggie, N.E. Pierce & R. Meier. 2008. Phylogeography and genetic diversity of a widespread Old World butterfly, Lampides boeticus (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 8: 301. [PDF] [Additional File]

Lohman, D.J.*, M. de Bruyn*, T. Page, K. von Rintelen, R. Hall, P. K. L. Ng, H.-T. Shih, G. C. Carvalho, & T. von Rintelen. 2011. Biogeography of the Indo-Australian archipelago. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 42: 205-226. * joint first authors [Abstract]

Lohman, D.J., K.K. Ingram, D.M. Prawiradilaga, K. Winker, F.H. Sheldon, R.G. Moyle, P.K.L. Ng, P.S. Ong, L.K. Wang, T.M. Braile, D. Astuti & R. Meier. 2010. Cryptic genetic diversity in "widespread" Southeast Asian bird species suggests that Philippine avian endemism is gravely underestimated. Biological Conservation 143: 1885-1890. [Abstract]

Sheldon, F.H., D.J. Lohman, H.C. Lim, F. Zou, S.M. Goodman, D.M. Prawiradilaga, K. Winker, T.M. Braile & R.G. Moyle. 2009. Phylogeography of the magpie-robin species comples (Aves: Turdidae: Copsychus) reveals a Philippine species and novel dispersal patterns in the Indian Ocean and S.E. Asia. Journal of Biogeography 36: 1070-1083. [Abstract]

Tsang, S.M., S. Wiantoro, M.J. Veluz, N. Sugita, Y.-L. Nguyen, N.B. Simmons & D.J. Lohman. 2020. Dispersal across the Indo-Australian Archipelago spurs diversification of Pteropus flying foxes, the world's largest bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera). Journal of Biogeography 47: 527-537. (cover article) [Abstract]

Tsang, S.M., S. Wiantoro, M.J. Veluz, N.B. Simmons, & D.J. Lohman. 2018. High levels of inferred gene flow among geographically distant populations of Pteropus vampyrus (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae). Acta Chiropterologica 20:59-71. [Abstract]

Tseng, H.-Y., H. Chiba, D. J. Lohman, S.-H. Yen, K. Aduse-Poku, Y. Ohshima, and L.-W. Wu. 2022. Out of Asia: Intercontinental dispersals after the Eocene-Oligocene transition shaped the zoogeography of Limenitidinae butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 170:107444. [Abstract]

Evolution of Batesian mimicry in Elymnias and other butterflies (NSF DEB 1120380)
The butterfly genus Elymnias is a little-studied but species-rich group of Batesian mimics distributed primarily in Southeast Asia. Species vary in color, pattern, and size because different Elymnias species frequently mimic dramatically different models. Despite its potential as a system for studying mimicry, the evolution of wing patterns, and Southeast Asian biogeography, there has been virtually no biological research on this genus.

Using multiple, independent genetic loci, we and the laboratory of Shen-Horn Yen will generate a phylogenetic tree to address several key questions, including: 1) Have similar mimetic wing patterns evolved convergently? 2) Does the inferred timescale of diversification conform to hypotheses regarding the biogeographical history of Southeast Asia? 3) Have isolated islands been colonized more than once, or have their respective suites of endemic species diversified in situ? 4) Is divergence within a single landmass associated with shifts in mimetic color pattern?

Relevant Publication
Lohman, D. J., Sarino, and D. Peggie. 2020. Syntopic Elymnias agondas aruana female forms mimic different Taenaris model species (Papilionoidea: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae) on Aru, Indonesia. Treubia 47:1-12. [Full Text].

Panettieri, S., E. Gjinaj, G. John, & D.J. Lohman. 2018. Different ommochrome pigment mixtures enable sexually dimorphic Batesian mimicry in allopatric populations of the common palmfly butterfly, Elymnias hypermnestra. PLoS ONE 13: e0202465. [Full Text]

Ruttenberg, D. M., N. W. VanKuren, S. Nallu, S.-H. Yen, D. Peggie, D. J. Lohman, and M. R. Kronforst. 2021. The evolution and genetics of sexually dimorphic ‘dual’ mimicry in the butterfly Elymnias hypermnestra. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 288:20202192.[Abstract]

Wei, C.-H., Lohman, D.J., Peggie, D. & Yen, S.-H. 2017. An illustrated checklist of the genus Elymnias Hubner, 1818 (Nymphalidae, Satyrinae). ZooKeys 676: 47-152. [Abstract]

Department of Biology :: City College of New York :: City University of New York
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