New publication! Convergent evolution of quantitative pattern variation

20 September 2020

This research, published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, started out as Masters project by Hannah Bainbridge. She investigated vairation in the size and shape of the red band found on the wing of two butterfly species that mimic each other, Heliconius erato and Heliconius melpomene.

These two species are known to use the same major-effect genes to control major differences in colour and pattern that are found between popualtions, but more subtle variation has not been investigated to the same extent. We find that this variation is also controlled by some of the same major-effect genes, but overall the two species largely seem to use different genes to control it.

Figures A and B: wing pattern distribution

Variation in the size and shape of the red forewing band in H. melpomene (A) and H. erato (B). Brighter regions contain red in a higher proportion of individuals.