Original Papers


, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 257-263

First online:

The role of adult feeding in egg production and population dynamics of the checkerspot butterfly Euphydryas editha

  • Dennis D. MurphyAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Stanford University
  • , Alan E. LaunerAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Stanford University
  • , Paul R. EhrlichAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Stanford University

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Carbohydrate intake increases longevity, body weight maintenance and egg production in female Euphydryas editha. Amino acid intake leads to heavier eggs, larvae from which are more likely to survive. Females fed nectar produce more eggs in later masses than females which are not fed. During years of normal and below normal precipitation, larvae emerging from these later eggs are unlikely to reach obligatory size for diapause before their food dries up. On Jasper Ridge, where mortality is density-independent, nectar plays an important role increasing production of late egg masses during years of greater than normal rainfall when larvae from these masses are likely to reach diapause. The resulting large population increases, though infrequent, are probably important in maintaining population sizes large enough to reduce the chances of extinction during dry years.