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Seasonal life history trade-offs in two leafwing butterflies: Delaying reproductive development increases life expectancy

McElderry, Robert M.
Journal of insect physiology 2016 v.87 pp. 30-34
adults, butterflies, diapause, eclosion, genetic polymorphism, life history, longevity, metabolism, overwintering, reproduction, resource allocation, summer
Surviving inhospitable periods or seasons may greatly affect fitness. Evidence of this exists in the prevalence of dormant stages in the life cycles of most insects. Here I focused on butterflies with distinct seasonal morphological types (not a genetic polymorphism) in which one morphological type, or form, delays reproduction until favorable conditions return, while the other form develops in an environment that favors direct reproduction. For two butterflies, Anaea aidea and A. andria, I tested the hypothesis that the development of each seasonal form involves a differential allocation of resources to survival at eclosion. I assayed differences in adult longevity among summer and winter forms in either a warm, active environment or a cool, calm environment. Winter form adults lived 40 times longer than summer form but only in calm, cool conditions. The magnitude of this difference provided compelling evidence that the winter form body plan and metabolic strategy (i.e. resource conservatism) favor long term survival. This research suggests that winter form adults maintain lowered metabolic rate, a common feature of diapause, to conserve resources and delay senescence while overwintering.