Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Butterflies Taking Turns in Attracting Mates

Jennifer Armstrong provided the link to a story about the squinting bush brown butterflies. From the article:
Squinting bush brown butterflies use reflective "eye spots" on their wings to attract potential mates.
Males born in the wet season beat their wings to flash their spots but in the dry season females grow brighter spots instead and take the lead.
This behaviour could benefit females, allowing them to control mating when fewer food resources are available.

Published in the journal Science, the study is the first to show that butterflies develop sexual ornamentation in response to their environment.
This study is an example of the new strain of writing about nurture and nature which does not see the two as additive, totally separate influences. The interplay is more complicated as the above example shows.

This complicated type of interplay is still under-represented in studies about human behavior but that is likely to change in the future.