Spatial variation in boundary conditions can govern selection and location of eyespots in butterfly wings

Chandrasekhar Venkataraman, Toshio Sekimura

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


Despite being the subject of widespread study, many aspects of the development of eyespot patterns in butterfly wings remain poorly understood. In this work, we examine, through numerical simulations, a mathematical model for eyespot focus point formation in which a reaction-diffusion system is assumed to play the role of the patterning mechanism. In the model, changes in the boundary conditions at the veins at the proximal boundary alone are capable of determining whether or not an eyespot focus forms in a given wing cell and the eventual position of focus points within the wing cell. Furthermore, an auxiliary surface reaction diffusion system posed along the entire proximal boundary of the wing cells is proposed as the mechanism that generates the necessary changes in the proximal boundary profiles. In order to illustrate the robustness of the model, we perform simulations on a curved wing geometry that is somewhat closer to a biological realistic domain than the rectangular wing cells previously considered, and we also illustrate the ability of the model to reproduce experimental results on artificial selection of eyespots.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDiversity and Evolution of Butterfly Wing Patterns
EditorsToshio Sekimura, Frederik H. Nijhout
Place of PublicationSingapore
ISBN (Electronic)9789811049569
ISBN (Print)9789811049552
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Butterfly patterning
  • Eyespot pattern
  • Focus point formation
  • Turing patterns
  • Reaction-diffusion system
  • Surface reaction-diffusion system
  • Surface finite element method


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