Krzysztof “Chris” Kozak will be presenting a talk titled, Evolution and Ecology of Neotropical Butterflies Through a Genomic Lens Tuesday, March 19th at the Tupper Conference Center at 12:30pm.
Neotropics harbor the greatest diversity of life on Earth, but the relatively poor fossil record makes it difficult to peek into the past, especially of invertebrates. Genome sequencing has provided the solution, as accumulated variation in natural populations is a repository of information about recent and ancient events. I will demonstrate how genomics has opened a window onto the evolution of diversity within and between species of Heliconius butterflies, the classic subject of studies on Mullerian mimicry and other adaptations to the complex tropical environments. Population genomics of the 29 races of H. erato and H. melpomene reveal that the intricate mosaic of mimetic wing patterns has evolved independently in each species, with varied importance of interspecific introgression. Continental scale sampling coupled with niche models reveals differential roles for the changing landscape and climate, leading to local adaptation and divergent population structures of mimetic lineages. The classic example of co-evolution is therefore not strictly co-evolved.