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Visual mate detection and mate flight pursuit in relation to sunspot size in a woodland territorial butterfly
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. (Ekologi)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. (Ekologi)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4719-487X
2009 (English)In: Animal Behaviour, ISSN 0003-3472, E-ISSN 1095-8282, ISSN 0003-3472, Vol. 78, no 1, 17-23 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Territory residency is associated with considerable benefits. In the speckled wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria, males fight over ownership of large sunspots in open forest habitats; winners become sunspot residents, and losers become nonterritorial and sit and wait for females in small sunspots. A previous study has shown that residents have higher mating success than nonterritorial males, although females are not more attracted to territorial males or sunspot territories per se. Here we tested the hypotheses (1) that the higher success of resident males is caused by visual mate detection being more efficient in a large than in a small sunspot, and (2) that only sunspots above a certain size are defended as territories. Field assessment of territorial sunspot size showed that defended sunspots were significantly larger than 'average sunspots' on the forest floor. Experimental tests of male ability to detect visually a model butterfly passing through a sunspot showed that males were more successful in pursuing and intercepting a passing model when. own a longer distance in the sunspot. Hence, we conclude that light conditions and associated visual mate detection and ability to complete mate flight pursuit can explain why P. aegeria males defend territories in large sunspots in forest habitats.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London, England: ACADEMIC PRESS LTD- ELSEVIER SCIENCE LT , 2009. Vol. 78, no 1, 17-23 p.
Keyword [en]
butterfly vision; Lepidoptera; light gap; mate searching; Pararge aegeria; sexual selection; speckled wood butterfly; territoriality
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-33234DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.02.005ISI: 000267154000005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-33234DiVA: diva2:282751
Available from: 2009-12-21 Created: 2009-12-21 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The evolution of territoriality in butterflies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The evolution of territoriality in butterflies
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Competition over mating opportunities is a conspicuous characteristic of animal behaviour. In many butterfly species the males establish territories in places advantageous for encountering females. This thesis addresses questions about how territoriality has evolved and is maintained in butterflies. The studies have been conducted using the speckled wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria, as a model species. Males of P. aegeria are found in sunspots on the forest floor (paper I-V), on the lookout for females visiting the sunspots. However, males are only found in sunspots above a certain size (paper III). This behavior is maintained by a mating success advantage, where using large sunspots instead of small sunspots as perching areas generates a higher reproductive output (paper I). The mating success asymmetry is not explained by female choice or by a female preference for large sunspots per se (paper I, V), but rather the large sunspot facilitates visual performance of perching males and improves flight pursuit and interception of females (paper III). Winners of territorial contests gain sole ownership of large sunspot territories, while losers search for a new suitable sunspot territory (paper I, II & IV) or use smaller, suboptimal sunspots as perching sites (paper II). Territorial contests between P. aegeria males are not settled due to an obvious morphological/physiological asymmetry (paper I). Rather, variation in resource value and motivational asymmetries are important for settling contests (paper IV). A majority of male-female interactions (paper V) and matings (paper I) are initiated by a perching male detecting and intercepting a flying female. Furthermore, females can affect their chances of being detected by a perching male by behaving more conspicuously (paper V). This thesis highlights the role of female behaviour, variation in resource value and motivation asymmetries to understand the evolution of territoriality in butterflies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2011. 27 p.
Keyword
territoriality, Lepidoptera, sexual selection, mating success, mate locating behaviour, resource-holding potential, motivation, courtship solicitation
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-54668 (URN)978-91-7447-182-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-03-18, Magnélisalen, Kemiska övningslaboratoriet, Svante Arrhenius väg 16 B, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-02-25 Created: 2011-02-10 Last updated: 2011-02-17Bibliographically approved

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