We examined mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation in pipevine swallowtail butterflies (Battus philenor) from throughout its extant range to provide a historical, phylogeographical context for ecological studies of the disjunct population in California. We evaluate current hypotheses regarding host plant use, behavior, and mimetic relationships of B. philenor populations and generate alternative hypotheses. Compared to populations throughout the rest of the species' range, California populations are ecologically distinct in that they lack mimics, lay significantly larger clutches of eggs, and exclusively use a unique, endemic larval host plant. Analysis of molecular variance, tests of population differentiation, and nested clade analysis of mtDNA variation indicate that, despite low levels of population genetic structure across the species' range, there is evidence of recent range expansion from presumed Pleistocene refuge(s) in southeastern North America. Colonization of California appears to have been a recent event. This phylogeographic investigation also suggests that the evolution of life-history adaptations to a novel larval host has occurred rapidly in California and the lack of mimics in California may be attributable to the recency of colonization.
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Vol. 57 • No. 5