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Acta Biotheoretica

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 219–237 | Cite as

An evolutionary-ecological model of the evolution of migratory behavior in the Monarch Butterfly, and its absence in the Queen Butterfly

  • Allen M. Young
Article

Abstract

This paper presents a model that generates testable hypotheses concerning the evolution of long-range migratory behavior in the Monarch Butterfly,Danaus plexippus and the general absence of such behavior in a related form, the Queen,D. gilippus (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Danainae). An attempt is made to reconstruct a probable transition within the Neotropical forest-dwelling danaines associated with woody Asclepiadaceae (and to a lesser extent, perhaps some Apocyanaceae) as larval food plants to a progenitor stock of the Monarch and Queen in more seasonal tropical regions, and eventually temperate regions, and associated with herbaceous asclepiads such asAsclepias. A basic premise of the proposed hypothetical model is that the colonization of secondary habitats in seasonal tropical regions of Central America preadapted both forms to an eventual colonization of the sub-temperate and temperate zone of North America. The assumed evolutionary diversification of the herbaceousAsclepias species in North America provided an evolutionary stepping stone for the expansion of these danaines into this region. Owing to strong selection arising from the co-association of the Monarch and Queen with the same species ofAsclepias in the subtropical region of North America, eventually there was selection for the colonization of the higher latitudes by the Monarch, whereAsclepias thrived. Being essentially a tropical insect, the Monarch evolved an obligatory long-range migratory behavior to allow colonization of the temperate zone annually, and necessitating the use of overwintering sites in Mexico and other places.

Keywords

Tropical Rain Forest Extrafloral Nectary Extant Population Monarch Butterfly Reproductive Diapause 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff/Dr W. Junk Publishers 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allen M. Young
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Invertebrate ZoologyMilwaukee Public MuseumMilwaukeeU.S.A.

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