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Seasonal polyphenism in

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A comparison is made between northern and southern hemisphere populations of Bicyclus butterflies in Africa regarding their responses in wing pattern polyphenism to seasonal change in rainfall and temperature. In southern habitats where temperature and rainfall are often positively correlated, a high temperature during the larval period induces conspicuous wet season forms whereas a fall in temperature elicits cryptic dry season forms. In northern habitats, however, where temperature and rainfall usually are negatively correlated, a rise in temperature should not induce a wet season form because such a rise is correlated with the onset of the dry season. Here, wing pattern plasticity, as measured using museum material, was regressed on mean monthly values for rainfall and temperature. Rainfall appeared to be a frequent determinant of wing pattern plasticity whereas temperature was much less often a significant independent variate. We conclude that the wing pattern may only respond to seasonal change in temperature if rainfall and temperature are positively correlated; in other situations rainfall remains the only significant determinant for wing pattern plasticity.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Institute of Evolutionary and Ecological Sciences, University of Leiden, P.O. Box 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands

Publication date: March 1, 1999


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