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 September 20, 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 September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) 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