Study systems

Our main study organisms are the Heliconius or passion-vine butterflies. More information on this system is available on the heliconius website.

The main attraction of this system is its diversity, both in terms of the number of species and the variation found within species. This makes it a good system for studying the processes of divergence and adaptation. The within-species diversity, particularly in colour and pattern, also provides a useful tool for identifying the genes underlying these traits.

Mimicry between species is also frequently observed in these butterflies, with often distantly related species converging on near identical wing colour patterns. This makes it an ideal system for studying convergent evolution.

360 degree footage from inside our butterfly flight cage at the University of Sheffield. Home to our population of Heliconius sara butterflies. Use your mouse to drag the image around and look in any direction you so wish (or try to follow your favorite butterfly).