Colour pattern modification by coldshock in Lepidoptera.
When young pupae of Vanessa cardui, V. virginiensis and Precis coenia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) are exposed to severe coldshock many develop aberrant adult wing patterns. For each species, a synchronous cohort of experimental animals always develops a broad range of aberrant pattern morphologies but these can always be arranged in a single unbranched morphological series. When such phenotypic series are compared, between species and between wing surfaces within a species (each wing surface usually bears a different colour pattern), many parallel modifications and trends become evident. These parallelisms reveal certain homologies of pattern elements and suggest that a common physiology underlies the development of a considerable diversity of normal and aberrant colour patterns. The case is made that the phenotypic series produced may represent either a series of sequential stages in colour pattern determination or, a series of quantitatively different 'interpretations' of an established gradient system. Colour pattern morphoclines reveal which patterns are developmentally 'adjacent' to one another and may therefore prove useful in elucidating the evolution of patterns.
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