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 Closing the carbon loop
08.12.2016 | University of Pittsburgh

nachricht Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine
08.12.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>