Journal Article

Water Stress Affects Development Time but Not Takeoff Performance in the Butterfly Pararge aegeria


Most organisms are limited in the amount and type of resources they are able to extract from the environment. The juvenile environment is particularly important in this regard, as conditions over ontogeny can influence the adult phenotype. Whole-organism performance traits, such as locomotion, are susceptible to such environmental effects, yet the specific biotic and abiotic factors driving performance plasticity have received little attention. We tested whether speckled wood Pararge aegeria L. butterflies reared under conditions of water stress exhibited poorer flight morphology and performance than control individuals. Despite large differences in mortality between treatments, we found no effects of water stress treatment on takeoff performance and only minor treatment effects on flight morphology. However, butterflies reared on water-stressed diets exhibited both significantly greater mortality and longer development times than did control individuals. Pararge aegeria larvae may compensate for this stress by prolonging development, resulting in similar realized performance capacities at least in takeoff performance in surviving adult butterflies; other measures of flight performance remain to be considered. Alternatively, the adult phenotype may be insulated from environmental effects at the larval stage in these insects.

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Lailvaux, S
Breuker, C
Van Damme, R

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Biological and Medical Sciences


Year of publication: 2016
Date of RADAR deposit: 2016-11-15

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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