Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Long-distance migration shapes butterfly wings

Date:
February 13, 2010
Source:
University of Georgia
Summary:
Monarch butterflies that migrate long distances have evolved significantly larger and more elongated wings than their stationary cousins, differences that are consistent with traits known to enhance flight ability in other migratory species.

A University of Georgia study has found that monarch butterflies that migrate long distances have evolved significantly larger and more elongated wings than their stationary cousins, differences that are consistent with traits known to enhance flight ability in other migratory species. The monarch butterfly is in the bottom row, second from the right.
Credit: iStockphoto/Ismael Montero Verdu

A University of Georgia study has found that monarch butterflies that migrate long distances have evolved significantly larger and more elongated wings than their stationary cousins, differences that are consistent with traits known to enhance flight ability in other migratory species.

As part of a National Science Foundation and UGA-funded study, researchers in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Odum School of Ecology examined the size and shape of monarchs from migratory and non-migratory populations using sophisticated computer imaging that was able to measure precise details about the insects' wings. Warnell doctoral candidate Andy Davis and Odum Associate Professor Sonia Altizer compared migratory monarchs from the eastern and western U.S. to those in Hawaii, Costa Rica, South Florida and Puerto Rico that do not migrate. They also measured the wings of lab-grown monarchs to rule out environmental causes of differences in size and shape, and to demonstrate a genetic basis for variation in wing traits among individual monarchs. Altizer and Davis' findings were recently published in the online edition of the scientific journal Evolution.

The findings in monarchs were consistent with previous studies comparing migratory and non-migratory bird species, which indicate that the best shape for long-distance flight involves long wings with a narrow tip to help reduce drag. In addition to their findings on wing size and shape, the team also found that monarchs from the two migratory populations in the U.S. differed in body size, suggesting that each population could have adapted to the demands of migration in subtly different ways. Larger bodies might help eastern monarchs, with their much longer migration, carry fat deposits to fuel the long journey and five-month overwintering period in Mexico.

Monarchs in eastern North America, famous for migrating the longest distances of any insect species in the world, face a number of threats, to the point that monarch migration is considered to be an "endangered phenomenon." Davis has published previous research indicating that female monarch butterflies are on a 30-year decline in the eastern U.S., a troubling pattern that paints a dire picture for population recruitment. Furthermore, monarchs from this population are prone to periodic population crashes from storms at the Mexican overwintering site. Although monarchs worldwide are not threatened, Altizer said, those with the larger wingspan are. "Our study shows that we would lose an evolutionarily unique population if the migration of eastern monarchs were to unravel," she said.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Georgia. "Long-distance migration shapes butterfly wings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100211100800.htm>.
University of Georgia. (2010, February 13). Long-distance migration shapes butterfly wings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100211100800.htm
University of Georgia. "Long-distance migration shapes butterfly wings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100211100800.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 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