ECOLOGY/EVOLUTION: Butterflies in the Wind

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Science  12 Oct 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5541, pp. 267d
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5541.267d

Migration is a costly process for flying animals and so birds, bats, and insects have evolved optimal strategies for conserving energy and maximizing distance traveled. Srygley has shown a difference in migrating strategies between the sexes of a butterfly species. On their migration from Colombia to Panama, females of the cloudless sulfur butterfly, Phoebis sennae, reduce their flight speed taking advantage of tailwinds. When males travel in tailwinds, however, they maintain their flight speed. The female strategy appears to be to conserve energy, whereas the male strategy is to arrive quickly. For males, early arrival may increase mating opportunities at the breeding grounds, whereas for females, using tailwinds may conserve energy resources for egg production.—AMS

Behav. Ecol. 12, 607 (2001).

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