We investigated the genetic background of intraspecific variation in wing color across an elevational gradient in the butterfly Colias philodice eriphyle. The degree of wing melanization was an accelerating function of elevation, and differences in wing melanization persisted in a common environment. Full-sibling analysis and parent-offspring regression yielded consistent, moderate to high heritabilities for the degree of wing melanization. The breeding experiments also demonstrated that wing melanization is strongly sex linked. Because traits that differentiate sister species also tend to be sex linked, our results suggest that the genetic mechanisms underlying intraspecific differences in wing melanization are not fundamentally different from those that have been shown to differentiate sister species.
Corresponding Editor: S. Pitnick