Butterfly wing patterns

Acta Biotheoretica 41 (4) (1993)
This paper integrates genetical studies of variation in the wing patterns of Lepidoptera with experimental investigations of developmental mechanisms. Research on the tropical butterfly,Bicyclus anynana, is described. This work includes artificial selection of lines with different patterns of wing eyespots followed by grafting experiments on the lines to examine the phenotypic and genetic differences in terms of developmental mechanisms. The results are used to show how constraints on the evolution of this wing pattern may be related to the developmental organisation. The eyespot pattrn can be envisaged as a set of developmental homologues; a common developmental mechanism is associated with a quantitative genetic system involving high genetic correlations. However, individual genes which influence only subsets of the eyespots, thus uncoupling the interdependence of the eyespots, may be important in evolutionary change. The postulated evolutionary constraints are illustrated with respect to differences in wing pattern found among other species ofBicyclus.
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