Our paper (led by Lauren Lucas) on wing pattern genetics and evolution in Lycaeides butterflies is out now as part of a Molecular Ecology Resources special issue on association mapping in natural populations. In this paper, we investigate the genetic architecture of complex wing pattern variation in Lycaeides butterflies as a case study of mapping multivariate traits in wild populations that include multiple nominal species or groups. We take a genomic prediction approach that accounts for the possibility that wing pattern elements are affected by many genetic loci with small effects, and we assess trait architectures at multiple hierarchical levels of biological organization. We identify conserved modules of integrated wing pattern elements within populations and species, and we find evidence that evolutionary changes in wing patterns among populations and species occur in the directions of genetic covariances within these groups. Thus, we show that genetic constraints affect patterns of biological diversity (wing pattern) in Lycaeides, and we provide an analytical template for similar work in other systems.
You can check out the entire special issue here, and see PhD student Amy Springer’s awesome digital drawings of Lycaeides wing patterns below.