Species specificity and intraspecific variation in the chemical profiles of Heliconius butterflies across a large geographic range

Kathy Darragh, Gabriela Montejo-Kovacevich, Krzysztof M. Kozak, Colin R. Morrison, Clarisse M.E. Figueiredo, Jonathan S. Ready, Camilo Salazar, Mauricio Linares, Kelsey J.R.P. Byers, Richard M. Merrill, W. Owen McMillan, Stefan Schulz, Chris D. Jiggins

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch Articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


In many animals, mate choice is important for the maintenance of reproductive isolation between species. Traits important for mate choice and behavioral isolation are predicted to be under strong stabilizing selection within species; however, such traits can also exhibit variation at the population level driven by neutral and adaptive evolutionary processes. Here, we describe patterns of divergence among androconial and genital chemical profiles at inter- and intraspecific levels in mimetic Heliconius butterflies. Most variation in chemical bouquets was found between species, but there were also quantitative differences at the population level. We found a strong correlation between interspecific chemical and genetic divergence, but this correlation varied in intraspecific comparisons. We identified “indicator” compounds characteristic of particular species that included compounds already known to elicit a behavioral response, suggesting an approach for identification of candidate compounds for future behavioral studies in novel systems. Overall, the strong signal of species identity suggests a role for these compounds in species recognition, but with additional potentially neutral variation at the population level.

Translated title of the contributionEspecificidad de las especies y variación intraespecífica en los perfiles químicos de las mariposas Heliconius en un amplio rango geográfico
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3895-3918
Number of pages24
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number9
StatePublished - Apr 3 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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