Gómez-Zurita Lab
Herbivore Beetle Evolution
Animal Biodiversity and Evolution Programme
Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-UPF)
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Systematic revision of Calligrapha (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae)
Research sponsored by the Synthesys Programme (EU Integrated Infrastructure Initiative grant),
the
Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (Plan Nacional 2008-2011)

and
Harvard University (Ernst Mayr Travel Grant).



Calligrapha Chevrolat is one of the beetle models I'm exploiting for research on the evolution of biological processes, in particular the origin, evolution and consequences of asexuality, the evolution of host plant associations, as well as the ecology of reproductive strategies. However, this group is in need of a systematic revision to integrate and balance the knowledge of the relatively well studied Nearctic species with that of poorly known Neotropical taxa.


Calligrapha polyspila (Germar)
[Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay]
Type species of the genus Calligrapha.

There are hints supporting Calligrapha as a paraphyletic (or perhaps polyphyletic) assemblage. Monrós (1955) tried to express this problem creating several new genera to exclude species not readily conforming to the generic type, C. polyspila (Germar). Interestingly, entomologists that worked in this group afterwards ignored this recommendation and at most subordinated the new genera to subgenera of Calligrapha, not grasping the meaning intended by the mentioned author. The only available partial phylogeny of Calligrapha (Gómez-Zurita et al., 2006) informs about the actual need to split the genus into several genera to reflect natural groupings.


Para- or polyphyly in Calligrapha - Some of Monrós' (1955) new genera from North America: Acalligrapha praecelsis (Rogers), Bidensomela bidenticola (Brown) and Coreopsomela californica (Linell).

Species diversity in Calligrapha (as currently delimited) comprises in the order of one hundred species with half of the species in the Nearctic region and half in the neotropics. The Nearctic species north of Mexico are well known regarding to their taxonomic limits and general distribution. Only a group of species related to C. scalaris presents some real difficulties for their identification, since they show slight, quantitative differences in their morphological appearance and mainly differ in their ecology (host plant choice) or reproductive strategy.

Central and South American species, the focus of my taxonomic study, are in need of a major revisionary work. They were only covered comprehensively in two important, but old monographs: Carl Stål's great "Monographie des chrysomélides de l'Amérique" (1862-1865) and Martin Jacoby's (1880-1892) contribution to the influential and today's only general reference work for the fauna of Central America, the "Biologia Centrali Americana".


New characters for taxonomy and systematics. Holotype antenna of Calligrapha consputa Stål.
Antennomere shape and length proportions may have information about species diagnosis and relatedness.


The traditional taxonomic character in Calligrapha is elytral maculation. This character, although very useful and suitable to distinguish described taxa, is rather limited to establish a phylogenetic system for the group. Thus, I'm approaching the systematic investigation of this genus by incorporating other structural and morphometric features.




This work is carried out thanks to the EU Synthesys programme allowing access to the important entomological collections held at the Naturhistoriska riksmuseet in Stockholm, the Natural History Museum in London and the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, as well as the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation funding visits to the Czech Narodní Muzeum, the Naturhistorisches Museum Basel and the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology.