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Biodiversity Blog


Talk with Krushnamegh Kunte on mimicry in swallowtail butterflies

 Krushnamegh ButterflyPortrait Med

We are pleased to have Dr. Krushnamegh Kunte from the National Centre for Biological Sciences in India to give a talk at UT!


Title: Templates, Evolutionary Pathways and Biodiversity Revolutions: Tales of Mimicry in Swallowtails 

Date and time: 10 am, Friday, November 10th, 2023

Location: NHB 1.720


About the talk: The earth's biodiversity manifests itself as a spectacular radiation of species as well as morphological diversity. Is diversification facilitated by certain evolutionary pathways and adaptive templates? I address this question with tales of mimetic swallowtail butterflies. Swallowtails are hyper-diverse in species as well as sex-specific and polymorphic mimetic forms. I show that: (a) this diversity follows a narrow set of evolutionary pathways that compound morphological complexity, (b) a chemical color template drives wing pattern diversity, and (c) a few key genes under persistent and episodic selection facilitate rapid divergence under ecological selection for mimicry. Swallowtails thus reveal the processes and mechanisms that are the engines of biodiversification in their tropical abodes.

Bio: Dr. Krushnamegh Kunte is Associate Professor at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, TIFR, Bengaluru, India. He leads a lab group on the ecology, evolution and genetics of butterfly adaptations, focusing on sexual dimorphism, mimicry and wing patterning. In addition, he spearheads the Biodiversity Atlas – India citizen science collaborative (http://bioatlasindia.org/) and functions as the Chief Editor of the Butterflies of India (https://ifoundbutterflies.org) citizen science platform and Coordinator of the Indian Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (https://ibms-network.in) He has authored five books on Indian butterflies and published over 100 research papers on butterfly biology, the tree of life, descriptions of new species, and biodiversity conservation.

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