Seminar: “Analyzing the evolution and diversification of Lepidoptera using multi-spectral images” by Dr. Wei-Ping Chan
Dr. Wei-Ping Chan, Rowland Institute at Harvard
Analyzing the evolution and diversification of Lepidoptera using multi-spectral images
Lepidoptera includes around 160,000 species of butterflies and moths, known for their diverse colors and shapes. Recognizing the lack of comprehensive studies on the evolutionary changes in these aspects, I developed an economical, efficient multispectral imaging system. This system, integrating both hardware and software, captures images across a wide spectrum of wavelengths, from UV to near-infrared. This approach allows for a detailed comparison of colors and shapes on both dorsal and ventral sides of species, contributing significantly to the understanding of Lepidoptera's evolutionary history.
During my PhD, I analyzed the evolution of wing shape and size in butterflies, studying 2,388 specimens across 190 species. My findings revealed that butterfly flight performance, crucial for survival, is more influenced by size and wing overlap than shape. I also proposed a heuristic model for lepidopteran vision, generating hypotheses about eye structure and function, which was supported by a survey of 2,730 specimens across 224 species. Beyond these studies, my work extended to examining the interplay between the aesthetic sense and butterfly trade, the evolution of “false head” patterns, and the relationship between plant volatiles and lepidopteran sensory organs, showcasing a broad scope of application of the multispectral imaging system.