The re-discovered Maculinea rebeli (Hirschke, 1904): Host ant usage, parasitoid and initial food plant around the type locality with taxonomical aspects (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae)

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Abstract

The taxonomy of the myrmecophilous Maculinea alcon group (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) is highly debated. The host-plant and host-ant usage of these butterflies have conventionally been important in their identification. Maculinea 'rebeli' has generally been considered to be the xerophilous form of Ma. alcon (Ma. alcon X hereafter) with Gentiana cruciata as initial food plant. However, the type locality and all other known sites of Ma. rebeli are found above the coniferous zone, and are well separated from the lower regions where Ma. alcon X sites are found. Furthermore, no food plant and host ant data for the nominotypic Ma. rebeli have yet been published. Our aim was therefore to identify the host ant(s) of Ma. rebeli around the type locality and compare this with the host ant usage of nearby Ma. alcon X. Nests of Myrmica spp. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) close to the host plants were opened on one Ma. alcon X (host plant: Gentiana cruciata) and two Ma. rebeli (host plant: Gentianella rhaetica, first record, confirmed by oviposition and emerging larvae) sites just before the flying period, to find prepupal larvae and pupae. Three Myrmica species (My. lobulicornis, My. ruginodis, My. sulcinodis) were found on the two Ma. rebeli sites, which parasitized exclusively My. sulcinodis (22 individuals in 7 nests). On the Ma. alcon X site Myrmica sabuleti and My. lonae were found, with My. sabuleti the exclusive host (51 individuals in 10 nests). Ichneumon cf. eumerus parasitized both butterflies. The results highlight the differentiation of Maculinea rebeli from Ma. alcon X, from both conservation biological and ecological points of view. Thus, it should be concluded that Ma. rebeli does not simply represent an individual form of Ma. alcon but it can be considered as at least an ecological form adapted to high mountain conditions both in its initial food plant and host ant species. In addition, it should be emphasized that Ma. alcon X (= Ma. rebeli auct. nec Hirschke) cannot be synonymised with Ma. rebeli (Hirschke, 1904). ? Andr?s Tartally et al.

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Tartally, A., Koschuh, A., & Varga, Z. (2014). The re-discovered Maculinea rebeli (Hirschke, 1904): Host ant usage, parasitoid and initial food plant around the type locality with taxonomical aspects (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae). ZooKeys, 406, 25–40. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.406.7124

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