Date of this Version
Brockmann E, Zhang J, Cong Q, Grishin NV. 2022. Genomics reveals a new genus and species from a single female specimen (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae: Hesperiini: Moncina). Insecta Mundi 0957: 1–8.
New taxa in Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea) are traditionally proposed after inspection of male genitalia, which largely form the basis for Hesperiidae taxonomy. However, with genomic DNA sequencing, even a single female specimen can be placed in a phylogenetic context of existing classification and taxonomically assigned with confidence. Genomic sequencing of an unusually patterned Hesperiidae female from San Martin, Peru, characterized by pearly spots outlining an inverted heart pattern on the rust-colored ventral hindwing, reveals that it represents an undescribed genus and species named here as Gemmia buechei Brockmann and Grishin, new genus and new species.
Neotropical regions are rich in undescribed species. While many of them may be cryptic and evade recognition by visual inspection (Hebert et al. 2004), others are distinctive and can be recognized as new at the first glance (Turland et al. 2012). However, it may be a challenge to place such distinctive species within a taxonomic hierarchy, in particular when only a single specimen is known. Hesperiidae taxonomy relies heavily on the analysis of male genitalia, and descriptions of genus-group taxa traditionally report the structure of male genitalia. However, genera are defined as monophyletic groups of species, and a confident phylogeny that includes all close relatives is a reliable way to define them (Cong et al. 2019; Li et al. 2019; Zhang et al. 2019, 2020, 2022). Here, we illustrate this approach and propose a new Hesperiidae genus based on a single distinctively patterned female specimen. We believe that bringing a new species and the new genus to the attention of researchers has advantages over waiting to find more of its specimens, in particular males. The genomics-based approach that we use puts the phylogenetic placement of this new taxon on a strong footing.