Morph ratio dynamics under male-killer invasion: The case of the tropical butterfly Acraea encedon (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae).

S. S. H. Hassan, E. Idris, M. E. N. Majerus


This study aimed to provide field-based assessment for the theoretical possibility that there is a relationship between colour polymorphism and male-killing in the butterfly Acraea encedon. In an extensive, three year study conducted in Uganda, the spatial variations and temporal changes in the ratios of different colour forms were observed. Moreover, the association between Wolbachia susceptibility and colour pattern was analyzed statistically. Two hypotheses were tested: first, morph ratio dynamics is a consequence of random extinction-colonization cycles, caused by Wolbachia spread, and second, particular colour forms are less susceptible to Wolbachia infection than others, implying the existence of colour form-specific resistance alleles. Overall, obtained data are consistent with the first hypothesis but not with the second, however, further research is needed before any firm conclusions can be made on the reality, scale and nature of the presumed association between polymorphism and male-killing in A. encedon.


Aposematic polymorphism; metapopulation dynamics; Müllerian mimicry; Wolbachia; female-biased sex ratio; PCR

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