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Journal articles

Mimicry can drive convergence in structural and light transmission features of transparent wings in Lepidoptera

Abstract : Müllerian mimicry is a positive interspecific interaction, whereby co-occurring defended prey species share a common aposematic signal. In Lepidoptera, aposematic species typically harbour conspicuous opaque wing colour patterns with convergent optical properties among co-mimetic species. Surprisingly, some aposematic mimetic species have partially transparent wings, raising the questions of whether optical properties of transparent patches are also convergent, and of how transparency is achieved. Here, we conducted a comparative study of wing optics, micro and nanostructures in neotropical mimetic clearwing Lepidoptera, using spectrophotometry and microscopy imaging. We show that transparency, as perceived by predators, is convergent among co-mimics in some mimicry rings. Underlying micro- and nanostructures are also sometimes convergent despite a large structural diversity. We reveal that while transparency is primarily produced by microstructure modifications, nanostructures largely influence light transmission, potentially enabling additional fine-tuning in transmission properties. This study shows that transparency might not only enable camouflage but can also be part of aposematic signals.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, January 4, 2022 - 2:16:11 PM
Last modification on : Friday, May 20, 2022 - 9:04:16 AM


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Charline Sophie Pinna, Maëlle Vilbert, Stephan Borensztajn, Willy Daney de Marcillac, Florence Piron-Prunier, et al.. Mimicry can drive convergence in structural and light transmission features of transparent wings in Lepidoptera. eLife, eLife Sciences Publication, 2021, 10, pp.e69080. ⟨10.7554/eLife.69080⟩. ⟨hal-03510150⟩



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