Collaborative Resources for
Learning Developmental Biology
Collaborative Resources for Learning Developmental Biology
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Butterfly Polyphenism
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Nipam Patel
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Published on SDB CoRe: Jan 17 2012

Organisms: Invertebrates
Ecological Developmental Biology: Phenotypic Plasticity
Organism: Butterfly
Stage of Development: Adult

Object Description

Three male specimens of the African butterfly, Precis octavia sesamus, displaying a remarkable example of polyphenism.  The left specimen is the summer form, the right specimen is the winter form.  The variation in color is dependent on the temperature at which larvae and pupae are raised.  When raised at intermediate temperatures, occasionally adults with intermediate color patterns will emerge (as shown in the middle specimen).


Protas, M.E., Patel, N.H., Evolution of Coloration Patterns. Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology, 2008, 24:425-446.

West-Eberhard, M.J., Developmental Plasticity and Evolution. New York, New York, Oxford University Press, Inc, 2003.

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