Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sexy Or Repulsive? Butterfly Wings Can Be Both To Mates And Predators

Date:
April 6, 2009
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Butterflies seem able to both attract mates and ward off predators using different sides of their wings, according to new research.

Oliver found that the eyespots of some butterflies, such as this pair of mating Bicyclus anynana, serve to both attract mates and ward off predators.
Credit: Photo by William Piel

Butterflies seem able to both attract mates and ward off predators using different sides of their wings, according to new research by Yale University biologists.

Trying to find the balance between these two crucial behaviors is one of nature’s oldest dilemmas, according to Jeffrey Oliver, a postdoctoral associate in Yale’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and lead author on the study, which appears online in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

"You want to be noticeable and desirable for mates, but other onlookers, including predators, are paying attention to those signals as well."

Oliver was interested in whether the eyespots on the upperside of butterflies’ wings – specifically, those of bush brown butterflies – serve a different purpose than the ones on the underside. Ever since Darwin’s time, biologists (including Darwin himself) have postulated whether the upperside patterns could be used to attract mates, while at the same time, those on the underside could help avoid predators.

Working with Yale biologist Ant๓nia Monteiro, Oliver used new tools to put the old theory to the test. Using different evolutionary models, he found that the eyespots on the upperside of the butterflies’ wings appear to evolve much more quickly than those on the underside, meaning they appear and disappear frequently through the course of evolution. The result is consistent with the theory that these are used to attract mates, as signals used for sexual selection tend to evolve faster than others.

The study is the first to employ evolutionary history models to show that a species can use the same signal – in this case, eyespots – on different areas of its body to communicate different messages.

While butterflies often sit with their wings folded together and their undersides showing, they can flash a hidden eyespot on their forewings to confuse predators and give themselves time to escape. Exactly how the upperside eyespots communicate with potential mates is not fully understood, Oliver said, although it’s thought they might help butterflies identify each other, which would help keep different species from cross-mating.

Next, Oliver will use longer evolutionary timescales to study where and how eyespots evolved, as well as whether they developed all at once, or independently over time.

Other authors of the paper include Kendra Robertson (State University of New York at Buffalo).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jeffrey C. Oliver, Kendra A. Robertson, and Ant๓nia Monteiro. Accommodating natural and sexual selection in butterfly wing pattern evolution. Proceedings of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences, 2009; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0182

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Sexy Or Repulsive? Butterfly Wings Can Be Both To Mates And Predators." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401134417.htm>.
Yale University. (2009, April 6). Sexy Or Repulsive? Butterfly Wings Can Be Both To Mates And Predators. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401134417.htm
Yale University. "Sexy Or Repulsive? Butterfly Wings Can Be Both To Mates And Predators." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401134417.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) — Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins