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The contribution of the developmental hierarchy to morphological diversification

Grant number: 17/12716-1
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): September 15, 2017
Effective date (End): December 14, 2017
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology
Principal researcher:André Victor Lucci Freitas
Grantee:Leila Teruko Shirai
Supervisor abroad: Keith Richard Willmott
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Florida, Gainesville (UF), United States  
Associated to the scholarship:14/23504-7 - The contribution of the developmental hierarchy on morphological diversification, BP.PD


Ontogeny and phylogeny occur at distinct time scales, but they influence one another. Genotype is translated into phenotype during development, under the influence of the environment, producing natural variation that is the raw material for evolution. However, development is not homogeneous, and different stages of development may impact different phenotypic traits. I will test this hypothesis with a model system that has greatly diversified, has ecological relevance, and is developmentally tractable: eyespots. Eyespots are wing color patterns found in nymphalid butterflies, and each trait may be traced back to a single developmental stage. The test relies in reconstructing the evolutionary history of different traits: eyespot number, shape, position (first stage); ring number, size (second); and pigment (third) - with the null hypothesis of equal evolutionary rates for all stages. If rates differ, correlated evolutionary histories, along with correlation with factors that may structure morphological diversification (e.g. sexual dimorphism), will be analyzed to best explain developmental and phenotypic evolution. I will use a robust phylogeny with representative species of 400 Nymphalidae genera, 210 of which are Neotropical. I collect data from museum specimens and, from the original proposal to the first report (Feb 2017), there was no reason to believe that Brazilian museum would not host this many species. However, after hearing from all to-be-visited museums, only 185 species are found in Brazil. This BEPE proposal aims at completing the database for the 215 remaining species at one of the best butterfly collections in the world, supervised by a renowned lepidopterist.