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Comparison of wing patterns from butterflies (Bicyclus anynana) produced during dry and wet seasons.

This photograph compares the ventral wings of two individual butterflies of the same species (Bicyclus anynana) that matured during different seasons of the year. The wing on the left is produced during dry seasons, when hiding from predators is important. It has few eyespots and is more cryptic in coloring. The wing on the right is produced during wet seasons, and the eyespots serve as deflective targets for predator attacks during that time of year. Which phenotype is produced depends on the temperature at which a butterfly is reared. This photograph originally appeared on the cover of Ecology (84:7) in July 2003.
Cumulative Rating: This resource has a 4 star rating (based on 1 response)
Primary or BEN resource type
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords eyespot, camouflage, predator, cryptic, coloration, phenotypic plasticity
Key taxa Bicyclus anynana, Lepidoptera, butterfly
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Description This photograph is a good example of phenotypic plasticity, or the ability for the same alleles to lead to varying physical traits, depending on the environment that individuals develop in. In this example, butterflies that mature during different times of year can have different wing patterns (many eyespots or few). Each pattern helps butterflies remain undetected by bird predators, but which pattern is better depends on the time of year. The temperature range which the butterfly experiences while it is pupating affects how many eyespots it will have as an adult.
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Institute of Biology, Leiden University

Wilkes University
Primary Author email,
Rights Copyright 2003 by the Ecological Society of America.
Date Of Record Submission 2008-03-18

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