Navigation Links
Panama butterfly migrations linked to El Niño, climate change
Date:10/5/2009

A high-speed chase across the Panama Canal in a Boston Whaler may sound like the beginning of another James Bond filmbut the protagonist of this story brandishes a butterfly net and studies the effects of climate change on insect migrations at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

"Our long-term study shows that El Nio, a global climate pattern, drives Sulfur butterfly migrations," said Robert Srygley, former Smithsonian post doctoral fellow who is now a research ecologist at the US Agricultural Research Service, the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Climate change has been linked to changes in the migration of butterflies in North America and Europe but this is one of the first long-term studies of environmental factors driving long-distance migration of tropical butterflies.

For 16 years, Srygley and colleagues tracked the progress of lemony yellow Sulfur butterflies, Aphrissa statira, a species found from Mexico to Brazil, as they migrate across central Panama from Atlantic coastal rainforests to the drier forests of the Pacific coast.

"The El Nio Southern Oscillationa global climate cycleturns out to be the primary cause for increases in the plants that the larvae of these butterflies eat. El Nio results in dry, sunny days in Panama, which favor plant growth. When the plants prosper, we see a big jump in the number of Statira Sulfur butterflies."

Peak Sulfur butterfly migrations take place a month after the rainy season begins in Panama. Because butterfly developmentfrom egg to larva to pupa to adulttakes about 22 days in the laboratory, Srygley thinks that these butterflies lay their eggs on new leaves produced by vines only four or five days after the rains begin. His team tracked the production of new leaves by two of the butterflies' host plants for 8 years. Drier years resulted in more new leaves.

The number of migratory butterflies was greatest in El Nio years, with one exception. The El Nio Southern Oscillation is a global-scale climate phenomenon characterized by changes in sea surface temperatures. In Panama, El Nio years have less rainfall during the dry season and higher plant productivity, with the one exception being an unusually wet El Nio year.

El Nio is global in its impact. In deserts and tropical seasonally-dry forests world-wide, a warm tropical Pacific Ocean surface is associated with increased rainfall resulting in seed germination and plant growth. The effects of increased primary productivity cascade upward into higher trophic levels resulting in periodic outbreaks of herbivorous species and migratory activity.

Neotropical wet forests are different because El Nio years are drier, but moderate drought results in increased primary productivity similar to that in desert and tropical dry forests. Thus the lowland forests of Panama fall into a set of habitats encircling the globe in which insect migrations are larger during El Nio years. However the Panamanian wet forest is in a class of forests that have the greatest abundance and diversity of herbivorous insects in the world, "It is like we had seen the tip of the iceberg and suddenly we realize its true size", Srygley suggested. The authors predict widespread insect migrations during El Nino years.

According to Srygley, "Understanding how global climate cycles and local weather influence tropical insect migrations should ultimately improve our ability to predict insect movements and effects such as crop damage."


'/>"/>

Contact: Beth King
kingb@si.edu
703-487-3770 x8216
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Fossil teeth of browsing horse found in Panama Canal earthworks
2. First jaguar photo taken at Smithsonian Research Station in Panama
3. New movement models tested at the Smithsonian in Panama
4. Smithsonian hosts tropical extinction debate in Panama
5. Smithsonian coral biodiversity survey of Panamas Pearl Islands
6. Smithsonian identifies invasive crab species in Panama Canal expansion area
7. Smithsonian identifies invasive crab species in Panama Canal expansion area
8. Sexy or repulsive? Butterfly wings can be both to mates and predators
9. When the butterfly bush blossoms
10. Butterfly fish may face extinction
11. UFs new owl butterfly species naming rights auctioned for $40,800
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Panama butterfly migrations linked to El Niño, climate change
(Date:3/20/2017)... 2017 PMD Healthcare announces the release of ... Management System (WMS), a remote, real-time lung health monitoring ... Healthcare is a Medical Device, Digital Health, and Chronic ... creating innovative solutions that empower people to improve their ... PMD developed the first ever personal spirometer, Spiro PD, ...
(Date:3/7/2017)... 7, 2017 Brandwatch , the leading social intelligence ... Prince,s Trust to uncover insights to support its reporting, help ... The UK,s leading youth charity will be using Brandwatch Analytics ... get a better understanding of the topics and issues that are ... ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... 2, 2017 Who risk to be deprived ... the full report: https://www.reportbuyer.com/product/4313699/ WILL APPLE ... FIELD? Fingerprint sensors using capacitive technology represent a ... vendor Idex forecasts an increase of 360% of the ... of the fingerprint sensor market between 2014 and 2017 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/28/2017)... ... March 28, 2017 , ... ... of a new orally administered treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), today announced that ... states, “As we seek to uniquely treat the metabolic dysfunctions inherent in Alzheimer’s ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... ... March 27, 2017 , ... ... produce small, heterogeneous samples with limited tumor content in a large background of ... resolved, such as the need for reliable detection of low abundance somatic mutations, ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... ... March 27, 2017 , ... PMG Research ... (CTC) conference presented by The Conference Forum in Boston on April 3-4, 2017. ... to drive improved clinical trial outcomes and bring them closer to the patient. Clinical ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... -- MiMedx Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: MDXG), the leading regenerative ... and patent-protected processes to develop and market advanced products ...  that it will present at the Needham Healthcare Conference ... H. "Pete" Petit, Chairman and CEO, Michael J. ... , EVP and Chief Commercialization Officer, and Mark ...
Breaking Biology Technology: