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Heredity (Edinb). 2004 Mar;92(3):163-9.

Genetic and environmental sources of egg size variation in the butterfly Bicyclus anynana.

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  • 1Institute of Biology, Leiden University, PO Box 9516, Leiden NL-2300 RA, The Netherlands.


By dividing families of the tropical butterfly, Bicyclus anynana, among different larval (including early pupal) and adult (including late pupal) temperatures, we investigate the genetic and environmental effects on egg size. Both sources of variation affected egg size to similar extents. As previously found in other arthropods, egg size tended to increase at lower temperatures. Our data suggest that the plastic response in egg size can be induced during the pupal stage. Females reared as larvae at the same high temperature tended to lay larger eggs when transferred to a lower temperature, either as prepupae or pupae, compared to those remaining at the high temperature. Additionally, females reared as larvae at different temperatures, but maintained at the same temperature from the early pupal stage onwards, laid larger eggs after larval growth at a low temperature. Heritability estimates for egg size were about 0.4 (parent-offspring regression) and 0.2 (variance component estimates using the full-sib families). Although there seemed to be some variation in the plastic response to temperature among families, genotype-environment interactions were nonsignificant.

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