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 Antσnia 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 Antσnia 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 22, 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 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — South Koreans eat more instant ramen noodles per capita than anywhere else in the world. But American researchers say eating too much may increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
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