To better understand the developmental mechanisms of color pattern variation in butterfly wings, it is important to construct an accurate representation of pattern elements, known as the “nymphalid groundplan”. However, some aspects of the current groundplan remain elusive. Here, I examined wing-wide elemental patterns of various nymphalid butterflies and confirmed that wing-wide color patterns are composed of the border, central, and basal symmetry systems. The central and basal symmetry systems can express circular patterns resembling eyespots, indicating that these systems have developmental mechanisms similar to those of the border symmetry system. The wing root band commonly occurs as a distinct symmetry system independent from the basal symmetry system. In addition, the marginal and submarginal bands are likely generated as a single system, referred to as the “marginal band system”. Background spaces between two symmetry systems are sometimes light in coloration and can produce white bands, contributing significantly to color pattern diversity. When an element is enlarged with a pale central area, a visually similar (yet developmentally distinct) white band is produced. Based on the symmetric relationships of elements, I propose that both the central and border symmetry systems are comprised of “core elements” (the discal spot and the border ocelli, respectively) and a pair of “paracore elements” (the distal and proximal bands and the parafocal elements, respectively). Both core and paracore elements can be doubled, or outlined. Developmentally, this system configuration is consistent with the induction model, but not with the concentration gradient model for positional information.
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Vol. 29 • No. 9