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Butterflies shed light on how some species respond to global warming
Date:8/5/2010

Westminster, Colo. (August 5, 2010) With global warming and climate change making headlines nearly every day, it could be reassuring to know that some creatures might cope by gradually moving to new areas as their current ones become less hospitable. Nevertheless, natural relocation of species is not something that can be taken for granted, according to Jessica Hellmann, Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame Department of Biological Science in Notre Dame, Ind. By studying two species of butterfly, she and her team have found evidence suggesting that a number of genetic variables affect whether and how well a species will relocate.

Dr. Hellmann and her team have conducted a series of studies in which manipulating the temperature of the butterfly larvae's environment revealed how the two species might respond to global warming. She will discuss the team's work at the 2010 American Physiological Society's (www.the-APS.org) Intersociety Meeting in Westminster, Colo., August 4-7. The program is entitled, Global Change and Global Science: Comparative Physiology in a Changing World.

Duskywing and Swallowtail Butterflies: Coping with Change

The Notre Dame team studied the larvaeor caterpillar phaseof two butterfly species, the Propertius duskywing butterfly (Erynnis propertius) and the Anise swallowtail butterfly (Papilio zelicaon). These butterflies, both cold-blooded insects, were chosen because of their ecological differences but they live in the same ecosystem, allowing Dr. Hellmann to compare their responses in a single study.

The duskywing is a small butterfly that does not easily fly great distances and stays close to the West Coast of the United States. Because it does not fly great distances, the genetic makeup of the group does not spread very far. The species is also characterized by the fact that its larvae consume only the new leaves of oak trees,
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Contact: Donna Krupa
DKrupa@the-aps.org
301-634-7209
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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