, Volume 101, Issue 12, pp 1055–1063 | Cite as

Environmental effects on the shape variation of male ultraviolet patterns in the Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni, Pieridae, Lepidoptera)

  • Pavel Pecháček
  • David Stella
  • Petr Keil
  • Karel Kleisner
Original Paper


The males of the Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) have ultraviolet pattern on the dorsal surfaces of their wings. Using geometric morphometrics, we have analysed correlations between environmental variables (climate, productivity) and shape variability of the ultraviolet pattern and the forewing in 110 male specimens of G. rhamni collected in the Palaearctic zone. To start with, we subjected the environmental variables to principal component analysis (PCA). The first PCA axis (precipitation, temperature, latitude) significantly correlated with shape variation of the ultraviolet patterns across the Palaearctic. Additionally, we have performed two-block partial least squares (PLS) analysis to assess co-variation between intraspecific shape variation and the variation of 11 environmental variables. The first PLS axis explained 93 % of variability and represented the effect of precipitation, temperature and latitude. Along this axis, we observed a systematic increase in the relative area of ultraviolet colouration with increasing temperature and precipitation and decreasing latitude. We conclude that the shape variation of ultraviolet patterns on the forewings of male Brimstones is correlated with large-scale environmental factors.


Ultraviolet reflectance Geographic variation Evolution Sexual selection Geometric morphometrics UV ornaments 



We wish to thank Jaan Luig and Pavel Chvojka for their help with providing the butterflies and David Hořák, Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow, Nathan Morehouse and two anonymous referees for their useful comments. This research was supported by the Czech Grant Agency project GACR P505/11/1459. PK was supported by EU FP7 People Programme (Marie Curie Actions; REA agreement no. 302868; project WORLDIVERSITY). PP and DS were supported by the Charles University Grant Agency project GAUK 764313.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pavel Pecháček
    • 1
  • David Stella
    • 1
  • Petr Keil
    • 2
    • 3
  • Karel Kleisner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and History of Science, Faculty of ScienceCharles University in PraguePraha 2Czech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Center for Theoretical StudyCharles University and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPraha 1Czech Republic

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