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The evolution of wing colour patterns in butterflies and the problem of speciation

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr James Kirkbride.

The most outstanding characteristic of butterflies is their wing colour patterns. For many of us, their natural diversity extends beyond what we could have imagined. Thus, one of the most intriguing questions about the natural world — for both scientists and nature lovers — is how could such an incredible diversity and beauty have arisen? In this talk I will review, in the first place, some of what we currently know about how wing colour patterns are formed during butterfly growth and development, and how environmental and reproductive factors drive their evolution and diversity. In addition, however, wing colour patterns are more than just a beautiful feature, they play an important role in the process through which new butterfly species originate. Moreover, ‘what is a species?’ is one of the most fundamental questions in biology and is an important subject of research and debate. It was, in fact, Darwin’s motivation to work on evolutionary theory. In this talk, I will also examine the role of wing colour patters in butterfly speciation, and discuss some of the current views on the problem of speciation in general.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Sciences Group series.

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