Evol Ecol Res 4: 1017-1032 (2002)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Generations of the polyphenic butterfly Araschnia levana differ in body design

Zdeněk Fric1 and Martin Konvic̆ka1,2*

1Department of Zoology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Southern Bohemia and 2Institute of Entomology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Branišovská 31, CZ-370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic

Address all correspondence to Martin Konvic̆ka, Department of Zoology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Southern Bohemia, Branišovská 31, CZ-370 05, České Budějovice, Czech Republic.
e-mail: konva@tix.bf.jcu.cz


The European Map Butterfly, Araschnia levana (Nymphalidae), represents a classical example of seasonal polymorphism, in which summer and spring generations differ strikingly in wing colour pattern. Although the physiological background to the formation of the two forms is well known, few studies have explored its possible ecological significance. Based on previous findings that both population number and body size tend to be larger in summer, we examined the hypothesis that the summer generation is more capable of long-distance dispersal. We re-analysed mark–recapture data on the butterfly using the multi-strata modelling design in the program MARK, compared biomechanical design traits of the spring- and summer-generation butterflies using canonical variate analysis, and tested for inter-generation differences in allometry relations of design traits to body size. The summer butterflies had shorter residence times and a higher probability of movements among capture sites than the spring butterflies, indicating greater mobility. Regarding the design traits, adults of summer-generation butterflies had a heavier thorax, lower abdomen to body mass ratio, larger wing area, less pointed wings and lower wing loading. The differences in design traits remained significant even after filtering out the effect of sex. Multiple regressions of the biomechanical traits against dry body mass confirmed the above differences between generations and showed that the differences were not only due to different body size. The results support the notion of greater mobility of summer-generation A. levana and suggest the possibility that differential dispersal is much more widespread in butterflies with multiple generations. This is well known in insect groups that demonstrate obvious wing size polymorphism, and might manifest itself in butterflies through more subtle shifts in body design proportions.

Keywords: allometry, biomechanical design, canonical variate analysis, dispersal, Lepidoptera, seasonal polyphenism.

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        © 2002 Martin Konvic̆ka. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

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