Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study about moths: Diversity provides stability among the animals in the wild

13.08.2015

Why some species of plants and animals vary more in number than others is a central issue in ecology. Now researchers at Linnaeus University in Sweden and from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) have found an important finding to answer this question: Individual differences have a positive and stabilizing effect on the number of moths. Species with varying colour drawing are generally more numerous and fluctuate less in number from year to year. The results were recently published in the internationally renowned journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

This could help to explain why some insect species in some years are very abundant pests and cause substantial damage in agriculture and forestry.


The red underwing (Catocala nupta) - on rotten fruit sucking. The moths was named after its distinctive red color. In the study this species showed no variability.

Photo: Martin Wiemers/ UFZ


The photo shows the Shears (Hada plebeja) a cold-loving moth from the family of owlet moths (Noctuidae). In the study it had a varied coloring - so a high variability.

Photo: Martin Wiemers/ UFZ

Moths are a species-rich group of insects that occur in different habitats. The nocturnal moths play an important role as pollinators. Adult moths lay their eggs on plants that the caterpillars feed on during their upbringing. Both the larvae and the fully formed moths are an important food resource for birds and bats. Some species are causing major damage to crops and trees in farming and forestry. It has long been known that the presence of some night butterfly species varies greatly from year to year, but why some species fluctuate and others are stable has been shrouded in mystery.

A research team led by Professor Anders Forsman at Linnaeus University has highlighted the issue through over a period of 11 years collecting moths at a site in southern Sweden with a light trap. The 115.000 individuals are representing 246 different species of moths. The researchers counted how many butterflies of each species they captured in the different years. Then divided the species into three different groups depending on how much colour artwork varies between individuals within each species.


„In general, we captured more individuals of the species that varied greatly in colour drawing, compared to species where individuals were more similar to each other. Additionally the number of individuals fluctuated strongly between different years for species that had little or no colour variation“, says Dr Markus Franzén from the UFZ, who was responsible for the fieldwork.

„The relationship between colour variation and stability was independent of activity period or host plant range, since the more stable species with large variation in colour drawing were not restricted in their activity to a shorter part of the year or to a narrower range of host plants. We are therefore pretty sure that there is variation in colour artwork which affects the dynamics of moth populations“, continues Markus.

The population fluctuations were not synchronised among the different species. This suggests that the changes were caused by biological processes rather than by abiotic differences in, for example weather conditions. Our results may be partly explained by the assumption that variation in coloration makes predators less effective that hunt by sight“, says Prof Anders Forsman from the Linnaeus University. „The individual differences contribute to increased stability of the moths which confirms conclusions from previous studies of frogs, lizards and snakes that colour variation is a key to success in the wild“, he continues.

The findings have practical importance. Information on animal colour drawings can be used in conservation biology to identify which species are particularly threatened and in need of protective measures. “Perhaps our discovery also helps to predict which species might greatly increase in their numerical strength and thus might cause damage to agriculture and forestry”, says Dr Per-Eric Betzholtz from the Linnaeus University who also worked on the study.
Editing: Tilo Arnhold

Publication:
Forsman, A., Betzholtz, P-E., and Franzén, M. (2015): Variable coloration is associated with dampened population fluctuations in noctuid moths. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282: 20142922.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.2922
The study was funded by the Swedish Research Council, the Linnaeus University, the Magnus Bergvalls Foundation and the European Union (FP7, project STEP – Status and Trends of European Pollinators).

Further Information:
Dr. Markus Franzén
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Tel.: +49 (0)345-558-5315
https://www.ufz.de/index.php?de=32047
and
Prof Anders Forsman / Dr Per-Eric Betzholtz
Linnaeus University
Tel. +46 (0)480-44 61 73, +46 (0)706-27 27 38 / +46 (0)480-44 62 49, +46 (0)725-29 65 90
http://lnu.se/personal/anders.forsman
http://lnu.se/personal/per-eric.betzholtz
or via
Tilo Arnhold, Susanne Hufe (UFZ press office)
Tel.: +49 (0)341-235-1635, -1630
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=640
and
Jonas Tenje
Communicators, Linnaeus University
Tel. +46 (0)470-767465, +46 (0)703-08 40 75
http://lnu.se/employee/jonas.tenje?l=en

Links:
EU-Projekt „STEP - Status and Trends of European Pollinators“ (EU FP 7, Collaborative Project, 2010 – 2015
http://www.step-project.net/
Linnaeus University Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial model Systems
http://lnu.se/lnuc/linnaeus-university-centre-for-ecology-and-evolution-in-micro...

Linnaeus University (LNU) (Swedish: Linnéuniversitetet) is a state university in the Småland region of Sweden with more than 35,000 students. It has two campuses, one in Växjö and one in Kalmar. Linnaeus University was established in 2010 by a merger of former Växjö University and Kalmar University (Högskolan i Kalmar), and has been named in honour of botanist Carl Linnaeus. http://lnu.se/

In the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), scientists conduct research into the causes and consequences of far-reaching environmental changes. Their areas of study cover water resources, biodiversity, the consequences of climate change and possible adaptation strategies, environmental technologies and biotechnologies, bio-energy, the effects of chemicals in the environment and the way they influence health, modelling and social-scientific issues. Its guiding principle: Our research contributes to the sustainable use of natural resources and helps to provide long-term protection for these vital assets in the face of global change. The UFZ employs more than 1,100 staff at its sites in Leipzig, Halle and Magdeburg. It is funded by the federal government, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. http://www.ufz.de/

The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major and urgent issues in society, science and industry through scientific excellence in six research areas: Energy, earth and environment, health, key technologies, structure of matter as well as aviation, aerospace and transportation. The Helmholtz Association is the largest scientific organisation in Germany, with 35,000 employees in 18 research centres and an annual budget of around €3.8 billion. Its work is carried out in the tradition of the great natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894). http://www.helmholtz.de/

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=34159

Tilo Arnhold | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung - UFZ

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>