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Mechanisms of Life History EvolutionThe Genetics and Physiology of Life History Traits and Trade-Offs$
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Thomas Flatt and Andreas Heyland

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199568765

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199568765.001.0001

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Seasonal polyphenisms and environmentally induced plasticity in the Lepidoptera: The coordinated evolution of many traits on multiple levels

Seasonal polyphenisms and environmentally induced plasticity in the Lepidoptera: The coordinated evolution of many traits on multiple levels

Chapter:
Chapter 19 Seasonal polyphenisms and environmentally induced plasticity in the Lepidoptera: The coordinated evolution of many traits on multiple levels
Source:
Mechanisms of Life History Evolution
Author(s):

Paul M. Brakefield

Bas J. Zwaan

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199568765.003.0019

Polyphenisms, for example in butterflies and moths, have been a constant source of inspiration to entomologists since well before Darwin's time. Initial attention from researchers was grabbed because of strikingly divergent morphologies, for example in wing patterns, among the alternative phenotypes or seasonal forms. Polyphenisms are, however, also now proving extremely useful in unravelling the evolution of alternative suites of life history traits including rates of aging and reproductive schedules. Not only the adult stage, but all other life stages, can show wonderful examples of seasonal polyphenisms. Comparative approaches are also now beginning to gather momentum – what sorts of patterns one observes for the evolution of polyphenisms within lineages, etc. Polyphenisms provide exceptional material to investigate how a range of molecular, cellular, and ecological processes have become coordinated in evolution to yield extreme examples of developmental plasticity, in which a single genome can yield two or more discrete phenotypes matched to their specific environments. They may also prove to be very useful in unraveling how epigenetic phenomena contribute, alongside genetic mechanisms, to the evolution of developmental plasticity.

Keywords:   polyphenisms, phenotypic plasticity, developmental plasticity, adaptive response, acclimation, thrifty phenotype, life history, Lepidoptera, butterflies

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