Sexual dimorphism in melanized wing patterns of Pieridae butterflies

Developed by: Alex Trillo1, Elissa Sorojsrisom2, Janice Krumm3*

1Gettysburg University, Gettysburg, PA; 2Columbia University, New York, NY; 3Widener University, Chester, PA
*Corresponding author


Students participating in this CURE will use digital images of Pieridae butterflies to investigate differences in the level of variation between sexually and non-sexually dimorphic melanized wing patterns. While sexual selection has been shown to play an important role in the evolution of wing patterns in butterflies, melanization is also used for thermoregulation, and can be seasonally plastic in Pieridae butterflies. Thus, patterns of wing variation in these two types of patterns will be correlated to changes in seasonality within a geographic location as well as changes in geographic distribution.

Learning Objectives

  • Data skills

  • Scientific process

  • Image analysis

Intended Audience: Undergraduate, all levels. Suitable for in-person, hybrid, or online courses.

Learning Time: Flexible, from 4-15 weeks

Required Resources: Access to computers and internet. All resources, data, and tools needed to complete this tool are freely available online. No physical lab or materials are needed.

Optional Tools: ImageJ, QGIS, R Studio


Curriculum Materials

  • CURE Syllabus 

  • Teaching Guide

  • Background on Melanization in Pieridae Butterflies

  • Article Synthesis Matrix Activity

  • Data Management Guide

  • Specimen Labels Activity

  • iDigBio Activity

  • ImageJ Wing Measurement Guide & Videos

  • Repeatability Calculations Activity

  • Georeferencing Guide & Video

Created by Carly N. Jordan Last Modified Thu March 18, 2021 10:32 pm by Carly N. Jordan