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Dispersal and migration have contrasting effects on butterfly flight morphology and reproduction

Cite this dataset

Bhaumik, Vaishali; Kunte, Krushnamegh (2020). Dispersal and migration have contrasting effects on butterfly flight morphology and reproduction [Dataset]. Dryad.


Movement may fundamentally alter morphology and reproductive states in insects. In long-distance migrants, reproductive diapause is associated with trade-offs between diverse life history traits such as flight morphology and lifespan. However, many non-diapausing insects engage in shorter resource-driven dispersals. How diapause and other reproductive states alter flight morphology in migrating versus dispersing insects is poorly understood. To find out, we compared flight morphology in different reproductive states of multiple butterfly species. We found that dispersers consisted of ovulating females with higher egg-loads compared to non-dispersing females. This trend was in stark contrast to that of migrating female butterflies in reproductive diapause that made substantially higher investment in flight tissue compared to reproductively active, non-migrating females. Thus, long-distance migration and shorter resource-driven dispersals had contrasting effects on flight morphology and egg-loads. In contrast, male flight morphology was not affected by dispersal, migration, or associated reproductive states. Thus, dispersal and migration affected resource allocation in flight and reproductive tissue in a sex-specific manner across relatively mobile versus non-dispersing individuals of different species. These findings suggest that dispersals between fragmented habitats may put extra stress on egg-carrying females by increasing their flight burdens.


Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Govt. of India, Award: Research Fellowship to VB

National Centre for Biological Sciences, Award: Research grant to KK

Dept. of Atomic Energy, Govt. of India, Award: 12-R&D-TFR-5.04-0800 and 12-R&D-TFR-5.04-0900

Dept. of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, Award: Ramanujan Fellowship to KK