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Investigating the role of morphology in butterflies’ ability to respond to climate change

2012Investigating the role of morphology in butterflies’ ability to respond to climate change.SAEED Uzma (Pakistan)
Organisation:University of East Anglia, Norwich (UK)Supervisor :Aldina Franco
Summary: The global climates are gradually warming and species are responding to these changes in climate by shifting their ranges polewards and towards higher elevations. In the UK several species of butterflies have expanded their ranges northward in response to climate change. This study compares variation in body morphology between core and expanding range margin populations of Aricia agestis, Anthocharis cardamines and Pyronia tithonus which have expanded their ranges in the UK since 1995 and their respective control species. Polyommatus icarus, Pieris napi and Maniola jurtina. The dry mass data was analyzed for a total of 272 individuals of Aricia agestis & Polyommatus icarus, 106 individuals of Anthocharis cardamines & Pieris napi and 110 individuals of Pyronia tithonus & Maniola jurtina. I expected individuals from margin sites to have bigger investment on dispersal traits (bigger wings, larger thorax) and lower investment on reproduction (smaller abdomen) than individuals from permanently occupied sites. The results of Aricia agestis indicate that individuals in the recently colonized sites are bigger than in the permanently resident sites with larger bodies, bigger thorax, bigger abdomens and bigger wings, suggesting that the trade off with dispersal ability may not be with reproduction. More sample size is required to draw conclusive results in cases of A. cardamines and P. tithonus. Further research is recommended to understand the complex interactions between the morphological traits of range expanding butterfly species and the respective ecological parameters.