The Predictive Adaptive Response: Modeling the Life-History Evolution of the Butterfly

J. van den Heuvel, M. Saastamoinen, P.M. Brakefield, T.B. Kirkwood, B.J. Zwaan, D.P. Shanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


A predictive adaptive response (PAR) is a type of developmental plasticity where the response to an environmental cue is not immediately advantageous but instead is later in life. The PAR is a way for organisms to maximize fitness in varying environments. Insects living in seasonal environments are valuable model systems for testing the existence and form of PAR. Previous manipulations of the larval and the adult environments of the butterfly Bicyclus anynana have shown that individuals that were food restricted during the larval stage coped better with forced flight during the adult stage compared to those with optimal conditions in the larval stage. Here, we describe a state-dependent energy allocation model, which we use to test whether such a response to food restriction could be adaptive in nature where this butterfly exhibits seasonal cycles. The results from the model confirm the responses obtained in our previous experimental work and show how such an outcome was facilitated by resource allocation patterns to the thorax during the pupal stage. We conclude that for B. anynana, early-stage cues can direct development toward a better adapted phenotype later in life and, therefore, that a PAR has evolved in this species
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E28-E42
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • phenotypic plasticity
  • metabolic syndrome
  • body-size
  • adaptation
  • starvation
  • growth
  • flight
  • lepidoptera
  • temperature
  • hypothesis


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