Integrative Taxonomy Reveals a New Melitaea (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) Species Widely Distributed in the Iberian Peninsula
The Melitaea phoebe group is constituted by six species distributed throughout the Palearctic. One of the most widespread species is Melitaea ornata Christoph, 1893, present from France (Provence) to Central Asia. Recently, populations of M. ornata were discovered in a mountainous region of south-eastern Iberia, although doubts about their taxonomy existed. To clarify the taxonomic status of these populations and to revise the distribution of this taxon in Iberia, we have sequenced mitochondrial (COI barcode region) and nuclear (wg, RPS5, MDH, and EF-1α) markers, and analyzed the male genitalia for 72 Iberian individuals and for all the species of the M. phoebe group. This information was complemented with phenological and ecological data. Our results unveiled that the Iberian M. ornata-like taxon is in fact distributed through most of the Iberian Peninsula, except for the south-west and north-east. In contrast to the univoltine M. ornata, the Iberian taxon can be bivoltine in the wild. The Iberian taxon was retrieved to be related to M. ornata, but the differences in the genetic markers and genitalia were comparable to those found between species in the group. Based on the evidence here presented and according to species delimitation results, we propose to consider the Iberian taxon as a novel species, tentatively named Melitaea pseudornata Muñoz Sariot & Sánchez Mesa, 2019, stat. nov.