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Home » Archive » 2015

TDK conference 2015

Relationships between proboscis length in the Clouded Apollo butterfly (Parnassius mnemosyne) and corolla tube length of its nectar sources
Vajna Flóra Mária - year 2
SzIU, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Institute for Biology, Department of Ecology
Supervisors: János Kis, Viktor Szigeti

Abstract:

Larval and adult feeding is important in many butterflies for increasing fitness. Adults feed on nectar, and choose from different flower species. Choice is based on color, morphology and scent of the flowers, and nectar amount and composition. Variation in corolla tube length of different flowers, and proboscis length in different pollinator species causes body size-based resource allocation. Clouded Apollos visit specific nectar species more frequently compared to other flowers. Consumption ratios differ among years and within a flight period. Although the Sticky Catchfly (Silene viscaria) produced the largest amount of nectar among the sources used in our study site, its consumption varied considerably among years. Its corolla length is similar or longer than the proboscis length of Clouded Apollos.

Our aim was to investigate whether proboscis length in Clouded Apollos determine their flower choice. We studied proboscis length variation in populations, years, sexes and individuals, as well as differences in corolla tube length in the Sticky Catchfly between populations and years. We tested if proboscis length was related to other body dimensions.

We observed flower choice of individually marked Clouded Apollo butterflies in Visegrád-hegység and Börzsöny in 2014-15. We measured the proboscis length and other body dimensions in live butterflies, as well as corolla tube length, nectar amount and concentration in the seven most often visited plant species.

Proboscis length was strongly related to forewing length, providing estimates with a quick and simple method on a trait difficult to measure. We found remarkable individual differences in proboscis and corolla tube lengths. Proboscis length did not differ between the two populations, the two years, and the sexes. Butterflies with longer proboscis visited the highly profitable Sticky Catchflies more frequently. In consequence, they might incur higher fitness than those with shorter tongues. Corolla tube length in the Sticky Catchfly differed between years and populations.

Imago body size may depend on inherited traits and larval nutrition. Larval food, just as corolla tube length, may depend on actual weather conditions. Butterflies might be smaller (bad early spring weather) and at the same time Sticky Catchfly flowers might be deeper (favorable late spring weather), impeding individuals to consume specific nectar resources. Further long-term studies are mandatory to test this hypothesis.



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