Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Battling butterflies – motivation determines the winner

30.03.2011
In many butterfly species the males can be seen fighting intensively for territory. What determines who wins is something that has long eluded researchers. A dissertation at the Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, in Sweden, now shows that what decides who takes away the victory is the motivation of the combatants.

“Normally when two animals fight or size each other up, the larger of the two is the one who wins. But with butterflied neither size, age, nor energy reserves seem to have any impact on who will win the battle. Instead it’s a matter of motivation. The notion that individual motivation can have such an influence is an entirely new and exciting finding,” says zoologist Martin Bergman, who presents the study on territorial fighting among butterflies in his dissertation The evolution of territoriality in butterflies.

If you walk about outdoors during the summer you can see that certain butterflies, such as brimstones and orange tips, are in constant movement, flying over huge areas, whereas others, such as small tortoise shells and peacocks, are closely bound to a site, spending most of their time looking out from a particular vantage point. These are two strategies for a male butterfly to find a mate, either to fly around and search or to sit still and watch. In species that use the sitting strategy, the males are often highly territorial and chase away other males from the site.

“We have studied the behavior of the speckled wood butterfly, where the males establish their territory in large sunny spots in forests. The males sit on the ground in the sunny spots and check out the females that fly by. These sunny spots are defended against intruders via extended flying duels. The flight contests, where the males circle around each other, can last up to 90 minutes. The winner gains access to the sunny spot as a reward, while the loser has to go and look for another suitable sunny spot,” says Martin Bergman.

A male who monitors a good sunny spot has a greater chance of discovering females flying by and thereby a better chance of mating. It has long been believed that sunny spots serve as a meeting place for males and females, but it has not been proven until now, largely because many female butterflies mate only once in their lifetime and most often nearly immediately after they hatch.

“To study the territorial battles of butterflies, we have reared caterpillars in captivity and then released the adult butterflies in large cages at the Stockholm University research station at Tovetorp. There we have been able to observe the butterflies’ behavior under largely natural conditions,” says Martin Bergman.

Further information:
Martin Bergman, Department of Zoology,
Stockholm University,
phone: +46 (0)8-16 15 60, mobile: +46 (0)73-624 02 16,
e-mail: martin.bergman@zoologi.su.se
Pressofficer Linnea Bergnehr:
linnea.bergnehr@kommunikation.su.se;
+46-722 333 385

Linnea Bergnehr | idw
Further information:
http://www.vr.se

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Japanese researchers develop ultrathin, highly elastic skin display

19.02.2018 | Information Technology

Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?

19.02.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>