Evol Ecol Res 8: 1511-1522 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Mechanical design indicates differences in mobility among butterfly generations

Z. Fric,1,2* M. Klimova2 and M. Konvicka1,2

1Institute of Entomology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Ceske Budejovice and 2School of Biological Sciences, University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

Address all correspondence to Z. Fric, Institute of Entomology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Branisovska 31, CZ-37005 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic.
e-mail: fric@entu.cas.cz


Question: Do individual generations of temperate butterflies differ in dispersal ability? Evidence from two species, and multiple indirect indices, suggest that this is the case.

Data and method: We measured traits with potential significance for flight of spring and summer generations of eight European butterflies belonging to three families. We assumed that large thoraxes and narrow, pointed wings imply energetically demanding flight, a high wing loading implies limited dispersal, and large wings and low wing loading imply improved dispersal ability. We used multivariate (discriminant function) analyses to separate generations according to the traits.

Results and conclusions: We found significant differences between generations in all species analysed. They mainly concerned wing loading, allocation of mass to thorax and abdomen, and pointedness of wings. The butterflies formed two loose groups. One group contained species well suited for increased dispersal in summer (Pieris brassicae, P. rapae, P. napi, Leptidea reali, Lycaena phlaeas, Boloria selene), resembling previously studied Araschnia levana. The traits of the remaining butterflies (Coenonympha pamphilus, Polyommatus icarus) implied a better dispersal in spring, as in previously studied Pararge aegeria.

Keywords: biomechanics, developmental plasticity, dispersal polymorphism, Lepidoptera, voltinism.

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