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CR 43:91-102 (2010)  -  DOI:

Geographic variation in thermal plasticity of life history and wing pattern in Bicyclus anynana

M. A. de Jong*, F. M. N. H. Kesbeke, P. M. Brakefield, B. J. Zwaan

Evolutionary Biology Group, Institute of Biology, Leiden University, Sylviusweg 72, 2333 BE Leiden, the Netherlands

ABSTRACT: Temperature is one of the main environmental cues regulating seasonal plasticity in insects. Global climate change may lead to a change in the predictive value of temperature for seasonal conditions, potentially resulting in a mismatch of phenotypic form and environment. The afrotropical butterfly Bicyclus anynana shows striking seasonal plasticity for wing patterns and life history traits. This polyphenism is an adaptation to contrasting patterns of rainfall over wet and dry seasons, and is mainly determined by temperature. To investigate the extent of local adaptation of the developmental plasticity response to regional climate, we compared the thermal reaction norms for several life history traits and wing pattern of 2 distant populations from regions with different temperature–rainfall associations. We found little to no population differentiation for the life history traits, while wing pattern showed substantially more geographic variation. Broad-sense heritabilities and cross-environment correlations for wing pattern and 2 life history traits indicated a potential for adaptation of the plasticity response of these traits. Our results indicate that thermal plasticity of wing pattern can be population-specific; thus climate change may lead to a mismatch of wing pattern to seasonal environment. Traits that can be further modified by acclimation during the butterfly’s adult life span (starvation resistance, resting metabolic rate and egg size) showed no geographic differentiation for their developmental plasticity. This indicates that for these traits, adult acclimation plays an important role in coping with local climate.

KEY WORDS: Temperature · Developmental plasticity · Seasonal polyphenism · Geographic variation · Life history · Wing pattern · Bicyclus aynana · Acclimation

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Cite this article as: de Jong MA, Kesbeke FMNH, Brakefield PM, Zwaan BJ (2010) Geographic variation in thermal plasticity of life history and wing pattern in Bicyclus anynana. Clim Res 43:91-102.

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