Ecomorphological and genetic divergence between lowland and montane forms of the Pieris napi species complex
The present study aimed to investigate the morphological and genetic differentiation of lowland and montane populations of the Pieris napi species complex in Norway and to make inferences about the subspecific status of Pieris napi adalwinda and Pieris napi napi. We measured 22 morphological characters on 228 individuals from eight populations in Central Norway (20–1100 m a.s.l.). In addition, lowland and mountain animals were reared at a high altitude locality. Half the animals from either locality were reared on mountain plant, and the other half on a lowland plant. Finally, a fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene was sequenced for individuals from Central and South-eastern Norway and Germany. Principal component analysis of morphological characters showed a zone of abrupt change from lowland to mountain morphological character states between populations at 506 m and 730 m a.s.l., respectively. The transplant experiment showed that the morphological differences have a genetic basis and that food plants have no impact on morphology. Limited, but significant, molecular genetic differentiation was found between lowland and mountain animals, but the phylogenetic analysis, however, showed that the lowland form (P. n. napi) is paraphyletic and the montane form (P. n. adalwinda) is monophyletic. Further study is required before taxonomic recognition can be applied.