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Butterfly survival on an isolated island by improved grip

  • Anne Duplouy
  • Ilkka Hanski
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Publication/Series: Biology letters
Volume: 9
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Royal Society

Abstract english

On small isolated islands, natural selection is expected to reduce the dispersal capacity of organisms, as short distances do not require a high rate of dispersal, which might lead to accidental emigration from the population. In addition, individuals foregoing the high cost of maintaining flight capacity may instead allocate resources to other functions. However, in butterflies and many other insects, flight is necessary not only for dispersal but also for most other activities. A weakly flying individual would probably do worse and have an elevated rather than reduced probability of accidental emigration. Here, we report results consistent with the hypothesis that a butterfly population on an isolated island, instead of having lost its flight capacity, has evolved better grip to resist the force of wind and to avoid being blown off the island. Our study suggests that local adaptation has occurred in this population in spite of its very small size (Ne ∼ 100), complete isolation, low genetic variation and high genetic load.


  • Evolutionary Biology


  • ISSN: 1744-9561
Anne Duplouy