• allozymes;
  • Lepidoptera;
  • mitochondrial DNA;
  • phylogeny;
  • radiation

The phylogenetic relationships among six members of the ‘tyndarus’ group in the Erebia genus of Satyrid butterflies, i.e. E. tyndarus, E. cassioides, E. nivalis, E. calcaria, E. hispania and E. ottomana were analysed using data from 19 presumptive enzyme loci, as well as 440 and 429 bp, respectively, from the mitochondrial large ribosomal subunit (16S) and subunit 1 from the NADH dehydrogenase (ND1) genes. The two types of molecular data (allozymes and mtDNA) yielded largely congruent tree topologies. The two basal, independent lineages formed by E. ottomana and E. hispania are contrasted by a group of Genétically closely related taxa, suggestive of a recent radiation associated with allopatric speciation, and competitive exclusion. The time of divergence for the radiation event is similar for both allozymes and mtDNA with an estimation of 440000 years ago. The lineages involved in this radiation do not comply with all the criteria necessary to assign to each of them full species rank, but they can no more be included in one single species unit. Such situations involving more than two alio- or parapatric lineages may explain why polytomies are so often met in phylogenetic reconstructions, after the lineages have reached full species rank. © 2002 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2002, 75, 319–332.