Cryptic diversity in the monotypic neotropical micromoth genus angelabella (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae) in the Peru-Chile desert

Marcelo Vargas-Ortiz, Guido Aliaga-Pichihua, Ana Lazo-Rivera, José Cerdeña, Jackie Farfán, Wilson Huanca-Mamani, Héctor A. Vargas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Angelabella (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae: Oecophyllembiinae) is considered a monotypic Neotropical genus of leaf miner micromoths known only from a few valleys of the arid environments of the Peru-Chile desert, particularly the southernmost part of Peru and northernmost part of Chile (type locality), where natural populations of its primary host plant occur. The geographic distribution of potential host plants provides a scenario for a wider range for this micromoth genus. The aims of this study were to explore the geographic range of Angelabella, determine the spatial distribution of mitochondrial lineages, and test lineage conspecificity hypotheses. The spatial distribution of genetic diversity indicated the presence of four spatial clusters, three of which are north of the previously known geographic range. Genetic distances were 0.2–0.8% and 3.6–8.3% (K2P) between haplotypes of the same and different spatial clusters, respectively. Phylogenetic relationships indicated reciprocal monophyly among the four spatial clusters, suggesting that allopatric differentiation processes have governed the recent history of Angelabella in these arid environments. These groups were defined as different species by four species delimitation methods, suggesting that Angelabella is not a monotypic genus, but harbors at least four morphologically cryptic allopatric species with restricted geographic ranges, including the type species and three candidate species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number677
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by Universidad Nacional de San Agustin de Arequipa through the contract number TP IB-08-2020-UNSA to G.A.-P., Universidad de Tarapacá through “UTA-Mayor 9726-20” to H.A.V., and Beca Doctorado Nacional CONICYT-2018 (currently called ANID) to M.V.-O.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Allopatric species
  • Cryptic species
  • Genetic divergence
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Tecoma fulva fulva (Cav.) D. Don


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