Navigation Links
Panama butterfly migrations linked to El Nio, climate change
Date:10/9/2009

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. Panama butterfly migrations linked to El Niño, climate change
2. Fossil teeth of browsing horse found in Panama Canal earthworks
3. First jaguar photo taken at Smithsonian Research Station in Panama
4. New movement models tested at the Smithsonian in Panama
5. Smithsonian hosts tropical extinction debate in Panama
6. Smithsonian coral biodiversity survey of Panamas Pearl Islands
7. Smithsonian identifies invasive crab species in Panama Canal expansion area
8. Smithsonian identifies invasive crab species in Panama Canal expansion area
9. Sexy or repulsive? Butterfly wings can be both to mates and predators
10. When the butterfly bush blossoms
11. Butterfly fish may face extinction
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Panama butterfly migrations linked to El Nio, climate change
(Date:8/23/2017)... public,s help is being enlisted in what,s thought to be the biggest ... human body –and are believed to affect health.  ... The Microbiome Immunity Project is the largest study to date ... project's goal is to help advance scientific knowledge of the role of ... The ...
(Date:6/30/2017)... Today, American Trucking Associations announced Seeing ... and eye tracking software, became the newest member ... "Artificial intelligence and advanced sensing algorithms ... driver,s attentiveness levels while on the road.  Drivers ... fatigue and prevent potential accidents, which could lead ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... 23, 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation and ... launched in Genoa, Italy . The first 30 robots ... the USA . The technology was developed and patented ... the IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million euro investment ... please click: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... Andi Purple announced Dr. Suneel I. Sheikh, the co-founder, CEO and chief research ... Inc. has been selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... ... eye wash is a basic first aid supply for any work environment, but most personal ... rinse first if a dangerous substance enters both eyes? It’s one less decision, and likely ... dual eye piece. , “Whether its dirt and debris, or an acid or alkali, getting ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... announced today it will be hosting a Webinar titled, “Pathology is going digital. ... Associates , on digital pathology adoption best practices and how Proscia improves lab ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... HILLS, Calif. , Oct. 11, 2017  SkylineDx today ... (ICR) and University of Leeds ... risk-stratify patients with multiple myeloma (MM), in a multi-centric Phase ... University of Leeds is the sponsor ... and ICR will perform the testing services to include high-risk ...
Breaking Biology Technology: