Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 81–103 | Cite as

Lekking in Neotropical Owl Butterflies, Caligo illioneus and C. oileus (Lepidoptera: Brassolinae)

  • Robert B. Srygley
  • Carla M. Penz


We demonstrate that the mating patterns of owl butterflies Caligo illioneus (Cramer)and C. oileus (Felder) are leks. During 1993–1994, we recorded distributions of male and female butterflies and larval hostplants in a lowland Neotropical rain forest in Panama. Caligo illioneus males aggregated along forest edges and defended territories against both conspecifics and males of the related species C. oileus, which exhibited similar behaviors. Male perch sites were not associated with hostplant dispersion or the local abundance of females. However, unmated female C. illioneus were observed to arrive and copulate with males on territories that were located near where streams intersected the roadway. We found some evidence that these leks overlap to form multiple-species aggregations. Caligo illioneus and C. oileus used the same sites at similar frequencies during 1993, a pattern that was repeated during 1994. We could not detect if members of different species were being attracted by similar environmental features or if they were effectively attracting one another to the display sites. Independent of population growth, the abundance of males at a particular site was correlated with the abundance of heterospecific males during 1993, but this pattern was not confirmed in 1994. Overlap in the leks serves as evidence against a resource-based “hot-spot” hypothesis of lek formation.

lek sexual selection owl butterflies mating behavior, tropical rain forest 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alcock, J. (1987). Leks and hilltopping in insects. J. Nat. Hist. 21: 319–328.Google Scholar
  2. Beehler, B. M., and Foster, M. S. (1988). Hotshots, hotspots and female preference in the organization of lek mating systems. Am. Nat. 131: 203–219.Google Scholar
  3. Bradbury, J. W. (1977). Lek mating behavior in the hammer-headed bat. Z. Tierpsychol. 45: 225–255.Google Scholar
  4. Bradbury, J. W. (1981). The evolution of leks. In Alexander, R. D., and Tinkle, D. W. (eds.), Natural Selection and Social Behavior: Recent Research and New Theory, Chiron Press, New York, pp. 138–169.Google Scholar
  5. Bradbury, J. W. (1985). Contrasts between insects and vertebrates in the evolution of male display, female choice, and lekking. In Hölldobler, B., and Lindauer, M. (eds.), Experimental Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA, pp. 273–289.Google Scholar
  6. Bradbury, J. W., and Gibson, R. M. (1983). Leks and mate choice. In Bateson, P. (ed.), Mate Choice, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 109–138.Google Scholar
  7. Casagrande, M. M. (1979). Sobre Caligo beltrao (Illiger). I. Taxonomia, biologia, morfologia das fases imaturas e distribuições espacial e temporal (Lepidoptera, Satyridae, Brassolinae). Rev. Brasil Biol. 39(1): 173–193.Google Scholar
  8. Cleare, L. D., Jr. (1926). On the life-history of Caligo illioneus illioneus Cram. (Lep. Morphidae). Trans. Ent. Soc. London 76: 361–366.Google Scholar
  9. Davies, N. B. (1991). Mating systems. In Krebs, J. R., and Davies, N. B. (eds.), Behavioural Ecology: An Evolutionary Approach, Blackwell Scientific, Oxford, pp. 263–299.Google Scholar
  10. DeVries, P. J. (1985). Hostplant records and natural history notes on Costa Rican butterflies (Papilionidae, Pieridae & Nymphalidae). J. Res. Lepid. 24: 290–333.Google Scholar
  11. DeVries, P. J. (1987). Butterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.Google Scholar
  12. Emlen, S. T., and Oring, L. W. (1977). Ecology, sexual selection, and the evolution of mating systems. Science 197: 215–223.Google Scholar
  13. Endler, J. A., and Théry, M. (1996). Interacting effects of lek placement, display behavior, ambient light, and color patterns in three neotropical forest-dwelling birds. Am. Nat. 148: 421–452.Google Scholar
  14. Freitas, A. V. L., Benson, W. W., Marini-Filho, O. J., and Carvalho, R. M. (1995). Territoriality by the dawn's early light: The Neotropical owl butterfly Caligo idomeneus (Nymphalidae: Brassolinae). J. Res. Lepid. 34: 14–20.Google Scholar
  15. Haber, W. (1978). Evolutionary Ecology of Tropical Mimetic Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Ithomiinae), Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, St. Paul.Google Scholar
  16. Johnsgard, P. A. (1994). Arena Birds: Sexual Selection and Behavior, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  17. Kirkpatrick, M., and Ryan, M. J. (1991). The evolution of mating preferences and the paradox of the lek. Nature London 350: 33–38.Google Scholar
  18. Lederhouse, R. C. (1982). Territorial defense and lek behavior of the black swallowtail butterfly, Papilio polyxenes. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 10: 109–118.Google Scholar
  19. Lill, A. (1974). Social organization and space utilization in the lek-forming white-bearded manikin, M. manacus trinitatis Hartert. Z. Tierpsychol. 36: 513–530.Google Scholar
  20. Malo, F., and Willis, E. R. (1961). Life history and biological control of Caligo eurilochus, a pest of bananas. J. Econ. Entomol. 54: 530–536.Google Scholar
  21. Parker, G. A. (1978). Evolution of competitive mate searching. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 23: 173–196.Google Scholar
  22. Pielou, E. C. (1969). An Introduction to Mathematical Ecology, John Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  23. Queller, D. (1987). The evolution of leks through sexual selection. Anim. Behav. 35: 1425–1432.Google Scholar
  24. Rice, W. R. (1993). Analyzing tables of statistical tests. Evolution 43: 223–225.Google Scholar
  25. Rutowski, R. L. (1991). The evolution of male mate-locating behavior in butterflies. Am. Nat. 138: 1121–1139.Google Scholar
  26. Shields, O. (1967). “Hilltopping”: An ecological study of summit congregation behavior of the butterflies of a southern Californian hill. J. Res. Lepid. 6: 69–178.Google Scholar
  27. Snow, B. K. (1974). Lek behaviour and breeding of Guy's hermit hummingbird Phaethornis guy. Ibis 116: 278–297.Google Scholar
  28. Southwood, T. R. E. (1966). Ecological Methods, Methuen, London.Google Scholar
  29. Srygley, R. B. (1994). Shivering and its cost during reproductive behaviour in Neotropical owl butterflies, Caligo and Opsiphanes (Nymphalidae: Brassolinae). Anim. Behav. 47: 23–32.Google Scholar
  30. Théry, M. (1990). Influence de la lumiere sur le choix de l'habitat et le comportement sexuel des Pipridae (Aves: Passeriformes) en Guyane Française. Rev. Ecol. (Terre Vie) 45: 215–236.Google Scholar
  31. Thornhill, R., and Alcock, J. (1983). The Evolution of Insect Mating Systems, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  32. Wade, M. (1979). Sexual selection and variance in reproductive success. Am. Nat. 114: 742–747.Google Scholar
  33. Wade, M. J., and Arnold, S. J. (1980). The intensity of sexual selection in relation to male sexual behavior, female choice, and sperm precedence. Anim. Behav. 28: 446–461.Google Scholar
  34. Wasserthal, L. T., and Wasserthal, W. (1977). Ultrastructure of a scent scale organ with pressure discharge in male Caligo eurilochus brasiliensis (Fldr.) (Lepidoptera: Brassolidae). Cell Tissue Res. 177: 87–103.Google Scholar
  35. Wasserthal, L. T., and Wasserthal, W. (1980). Multinucleate neurons with neurohaemal and synapsing axons at the heart and alary muscles of the butterfly Caligo beltrao Illiger (Lepidoptera). Cell Tissue Res. 212: 351–362.Google Scholar
  36. Westcott, D. A. (1994). Leks of leks: A role for hotspots in lek evolution? Proc. R. Soc. London B 258: 281–286.Google Scholar
  37. Wickman, P.-O. (1986). Courtship solicitation by females of the small heath butterfly, Coenonympha pamphilus (L.) (Lepidoptera: Satyridae) and their behaviour in relation to male territories before and after copulation. Anim. Behav. 34: 153–157.Google Scholar
  38. Wickman, P.-O. (1992). Mating systems of Coenonympha butterflies in relation to longevity. Anim. Behav. 44: 141–148.Google Scholar
  39. Wickman, P.-O., Garcia-Barros, E., and Rappe-George, C. (1995). The location of landmark leks in the small heath butterfly, Coenonympha pamphilus: Evidence against the hotspot model. Behav. Ecol. 6: 39–45.Google Scholar
  40. Young, A. M., and Muyshondt, A. (1985). Notes on Caligo memnon Felder and Caligo atreus Kollar (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Brassolinae) in Costa Rica and El Salvador. J. Res. Lepid. 24: 154–175.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert B. Srygley
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carla M. Penz
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordEngland, and
  2. 2.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaRepublic of Panama
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of OregonEugene

Personalised recommendations