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Flight Patterns among Eleven Species of Diurnal Lepidoptera

Scott, James A.
Ecology 1975 v.56 no.6 pp. 1367-1377
Lepidoptera, adults, extinction, flight, food plants, habitats, larvae, males, migratory species, oviposition, population size, rearing, shrubs, trees
Flights (movements from place to place) were studied in 11 species of Lepidoptera which differed in size, mate—locating behavior, food plants of larvae and adults, oviposition behavior, population size, areal extent of populations, and habitat features possibly limiting flights. and population size were quantified. Mate—locating behavior influences the difference in flights of ♂ ♂ and ♀ ♀; males tend to remain in sites favorable for mating, while ♀ ♀ tend to disperse more than ♂ ♂. Multibrood polyphagous species feeding on early successional plants had the farthest flights. Conversely, single—brood species feeding as larvae on perennial trees or shrubs had short flights. There is apparently a genetic component to flight distances; taxonomically similar species had similar distances, flights of several species were similar in successive years, and flights of reared individuals were similar to those of native individual. Two species in different superfamilies occupying the same habitat convergently developed similar flight distances. A migratory species had more unidirectional flight than the nonmigrants. There is a strong positive correlation between the size of the area in which the majority of individuals of a population are concentrated and flight distances for the 11 species. No correlation exists with population size, but mean densities are inversely correlated with flight distances. The significance of these correlations is discussed. It ispostulated that heritable behavioral mechanisms and local extinction influence the relationships between flights, area, and density.