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Selection for discontinuous life-history traits along a continuous thermal gradient in the butterfly Aricia agestis

Burke, S., Pullin, A.S., Wilson, R.J., Thomas, C.D.
Ecological entomology 2005 v.30 no.6 pp. 613-619
life cycle (organisms), Lycaenidae, life history, univoltine habit, multivoltine habit, climatic factors, temperature, geographical variation, larval development, diapause, photoperiodism, body weight, Wales, England
1. Voltinism may be conceptualised as the product of development rate and the timing of diapause - two components that together translate gradual environmental variation, through periods of growth and development, into 'generational units'. This may result in very different selection pressures on diapause induction and development time in populations with different numbers of generations per year. 2. Developmental data from univoltine and bivoltine populations of the butterfly Aricia agestis (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in North Wales were used to examine larval development time and the timing of diapause, and their contribution towards voltinism in populations that occur at the same latitude and in geographic proximity to one another along a thermal gradient. 3. The critical photoperiod for diapause induction in univoltines and bivoltines from the same latitude differed by more than 1.5 h. 4. Development time also differed significantly between these populations, in line with predictions that bivoltines would need to exhibit shorter development times in order to achieve two complete generations per year. Shorter development times for bivoltines result in lower pupal weights, suggesting a trade-off exists between generation number and body size that may dictate the position of the transition zone between the two life-history strategies. Analysis of development times in a third population, from southern England, with greater thermal availability than those from North Wales, further supports this hypothesised trade-off. 5. To achieve the conversion of a continuous thermal gradient into the binary biological response from univoltism to bivoltism, bivoltines speed up development, reduce adult body size and shift their diapause induction response.