Papilio zelicaon Lucas has become a common study system, and has been the subject of numerous investigations into ecological variation among populations and regions. Morphological variation has been less intensively studied, with the exception of a dark form occurring on the eastern edge of the animal’s range. In 1968, Remington described populations from the Rocky Mountains and adjacent areas as a distinct species, Papilio gothica. Gothica was not widely adopted, and was subsequently reduced to a junior synonym of P. zelicaon. Using a new wing character not previously considered, we reexamine the evidence for P. gothica, and investigate patterns of morphological variation within the California range of P. zelicaon. Evidence is found supporting significant phenotypic differences within and among three areas: lowland California, montane California, and Colorado. These results are discussed in terms of seasonal and geographic variation, and their bearing on the status of gothica. We conclude that there is significant and patterned phenotypic variation in P. zelicaon, but any taxonomic conclusions at this time would be premature.
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Vol. 96 • No. 1