Evolutionary trends in phenotypic elements of seasonal forms of the tribe Junoniini (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)
Seasonal polyphenism in insects is the phenomenon whereby multiple phenotypes can arise from a single genotype depending on environmental conditions during development. Many butterflies have multiple generations per year, and environmentally induced variation in wing color pattern phenotype allows them to develop adaptations to the specific season in which the adults live. Elements of butterfly color patterns are developmentally semi-autonomous allowing for detailed developmental and evolutionary changes in the overall color pattern. This developmental flexibility of the color pattern can result in extremely diverse seasonal phenotypes in a single species. In this study, we asked the following questions: a) How do wing phenotype elements such as shape and pattern vary between seasonal forms? b) Can this variation be explained phylogenetically? c) If so, what are the various pattern development strategies used to achieve crypsis in the dry season form? To answer these questions, we used high resolution images to analyze pattern element variation of 34 seasonally polyphenic butterfly species belonging to the tribe Junoniini (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). We show that forewing shape and eyespot size both vary seasonally, and that the methods by which phenotype elements change in the dry seasonal forms is different in different clades and may therefore have independent and diverse evolutionary origins.
Evolution & development
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