Posts Tagged: butterflies
What do butterflies tell us about tropical diversity?
Take it from an expert.
Tropical ecologist Philip DeVries of the Department of Biological Sciences, University of New Orleans, will discuss the topic at his lecture on Thursday, Feb. 9 at the University of California, Davis.
His presentation, sponsored by the College of Biological Sciences' Storer Life Sciences Endowment, is at 4:10 p.m. in 2 Wellman Hall. Professor Phil Ward of the UC Davis Department of Entomology is his host.
Free and open to all interested persons, the lecture is sparking a lot of interest, and rightfully so.
DeVries focuses his research on insect ecology and evolution, especially butterflies. A native of Detroit, Mich., he received his doctorate in zoology from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1987.
Highly honored, DeVries has received fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the Guggenheim and Dodge foundations, and the Smithsonian Institute. He is not only a noted researcher and ecologist, but a writer, scientific adviser and photographer.
If you listen to his piece on YouTube (uploaded in 2008), you can see, hear and feel the excitement in his voice as the long-tongued hawk moth, Morgan's Sphinx (Xanthopan morgani) pollinates Darwin's orchid (Angraecum sesquipedale) one night in a Madagascar rain forest. Truly amazing!
Background of the moth and orchid: Naturalist Charles Darwin examined the orchid in 1862 and famously predicted in his book Fertilisation of Orchids that there must be in existence a moth with a long-enough tongue (proboscis) to be able to pollinate it. The orchid's "nectar spur" measures about 12 to 14 inches long. The moth itself was discovered in Madagascar in 1903--correctly proving Darwin's prediction of its existence-- but no one saw it pollinate the orchid until DeVries headed out to the rain forest with his camera equipment. Since pollination occurs only at night, DeVries used infrared light (invisible to the moth) to capture the scene.
Jerry A. Coyne, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, blogged about the spectacular video in "Why Evolution Is True."
"The video," Coyne wrote, "was made in Madagascar by a friend of mine, Phil DeVries from the University of New Orleans, a remarkable—and, as you’ll see, intrepid—naturalist, and author of the two-volume Butterflies of Costa Rica and their Natural History."
"It’s really lovely to see how excited Phil gets when he finally sees the pollination," wrote Coyne. "Those are the juicy moments that every naturalist lives for."
Yes, indeed! It's something you never expect to see--and hope to see again.
Morpho butterfly, a genus that Phil DeVries studies. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Phil DeVries with a Morpho (genus) butterfly. (Photo by Carla Penz)
Butterflies are good learners--just ask Martha Weiss.
Weiss, associate professor of biology at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., will discuss "Lepidopteran Learning and Memory: Caterpillars, Butterflies, and the Mysterious In-Between" at the UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar on Wednesday, Nov. 16 in 122 Briggs Hall.
Her lecture, from 12:10 to 1 p.m., will make you think.
"Despite a common perception to the contrary, lepidopterans are very good learners," says Weiss, who received her bachelor's degree in geological sciences from Harvard University in 1980 and her doctorate in botany from UC Berkeley in 1992. "Indeed, learning and memory are apparent across the entire lepidopteran life cycle. Caterpillars can associate tastes or odors with the presence of food, and can also learn to avoid cues associated with aversive stimuli."
"A capacity for rapid and flexible associative learning allows butterflies to adjust their foraging efforts in response to variable floral resources and to locate appropriate host plants for oviposition," she says. "Butterflies can associate colors, patterns, and even shapes with nectar rewards or oviposition cues, and can also learn to avoid aversive stimuli."
And the pupal stage? Can a caterpillar learn something that a butterfly or moth will remember? "Perhaps surprisingly," Weiss says, "the answer is YES -- memory of larval experience can persist in the pupa over a month, and is clearly expressed in the emergent adults."
That's not all. "Lepidoptera provide terrific opportunities, well beyond the familiar painted lady life cycle, for hands-on elementary science education."
Her talk is scheduled to be recorded and then posted on UCTV.
So, the next time you see a butterfly, such as a Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus), landing on a Tithonia or other blossom, just remember that "butterflies can associate colors, patterns and even shapes with nectar rewards or oviposition cues."
Butterflies are good learners!
Biologist Martha Weiss of Georgetown University studies Lepidopteran learning and memory.
A Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) lands on a Mexican sunflower, aka Tithonia, in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, says he's now a "cover boy," too.
Shapiro is featured in the current edition of Sacramento News & Review. The headline: "Butterflyman: Is the Climate Heating Up? A UC Davis Lepitopdera Detective Cracks the Case."
Fact is, Shapiro chases butterfly. It's his passion, pure and simple. He maintains "Art's Butterfly World" website, does nearly year-around field research, and is widely published.
He also has a keen sense of humor. When SN&R reporter Hugh Biggar and photographer Ryan Donahue tagged along with him to Sacramento's Granite Park, Shapiro spotted a male orange sulphur butterfly flying around in the vetch.
"He's probably looking for a mate, and we are not what he has in mind," Shapiro told them, as they moved on.
Shapiro is now pursuing painted ladies.
The Lepitoderan kind.
"I’ve begun receiving inquiries about whether or not to expect a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) migration this spring," he told us last week. "In good years they would already be showing up, but there have been no reports so far anywhere in California, to my knowledge. The phenomenon depends on breeding success in the desert wintering grounds, which in turn depends on the rains producing a good crop of annuals for the larvae to feed on. After good late autumn and December rains, the tap was turned off for seven weeks—just like here—and the early annuals either dried up or froze. There were good rains over the President’s Day weekend—almost 2 inches at Anza-Borrego—which have already triggered another round of germination.
"But is it too little, too late? It all depends on March. 1992 had a very wet March after a dry midwinter. However, the northward migration is controlled by photoperiod (we think), and any butterflies that are around in March will head north rather than try to breed down south. So the timing is dicey. As of now, I would NOT expect a big flight here this spring."
If anyone can find Vanessa cardui, Art Shapiro can.
Orange Sulphur Butterfly
West Coast Lady
You'll learn all about butterflies and moths of Central Europe if you attend his talk or webinar (listen live) from 12:10 to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26 in 122 Briggs, University of California, Davis. The webcast will later be archived.
His topic: “Butterflies and Moths in Central Europe: Natural History, Climate Change and Voltinism."
Altermatt is the last speaker in a series of spring seminars launched March 31 by the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Altermatt, who is with the Marcel Holyoak Group at UC Davis, received his doctorate in 2007 from the University of Basel, Switzerland. From 2007-2009, he served as a scientific collaborator at Hintermann & Weber AG, (Ecological Consultancy, Planning and Research), working on the project “Biodiversity Monitoring Switzerland.”
Entomology graduate students James Harwood and Amy Morice of professor James Carey’s lab will be webcasting the seminar. The Wednesday webcastings draw widespread audiences, some from as far away as Brazil.
This is the last spring seminar, but the noon-hour seminars will continue in the fall.
Amy Morice and James Harwood
No, the bees and butterflies.Professor Daniel Papaj of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, will speak on "Ecological and Evolutionary Perspectives on Learning in Bees and Butterflies" at the next UC Davis Department of Entomology noonhour seminar.
The seminar is set for 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 3 in 122 Briggs Hall, Kleiber Drive. Papaj's talk will be Webcast; listen live.
This is the fifth in a series of winter seminars coordinated by graduate student Ian Pearse of the Rick Karban lab. Graduate students James Harwood and Amy Morice of the James Carey lab are Webcasting the seminars.
According to Papaj's Web site, his laboratory studies the "reproductive dynamics of insects in the context of coevolved interactions. We are particularly interested in how the flexibility of an animal's behavior or physiology permits it to maintain high performance in variable environments. Plant-insect interactions are our primary focus, including mainly plant-herbivore and plant-pollinator interactions. Host-parasite, predator-prey, intrasexual and intersexual interactions are considered as well. Within this species interaction context, research topics addressed in our laboratory are diverse, as reflected in a list of keywords that describe recent work."
This look into the fascinating world of insects should draw a capacity crowd.
Papaj's talk will be archived for future viewing. Just access this page to view all the UC Davis Department of Entomology lectures Webcast since February 2009./span>
Westen Tiger Swallowtail