Document Detail

Impaired escape flight ability in butterflies due to low flight muscle ratio prior to hibernation.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  18083728     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
For an animal to escape an attacking predator, speed and manoeuvrability are likely to be crucial factors. Previous studies on reptiles and birds have revealed that gaining weight, due to for instance egg load or lipid accumulation, leads to impaired escape ability and possibly increases the risk of being caught by predators. Here we tested whether the flight performance of an insect, the small tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae), is affected by variations in body mass due to feeding by comparing flight performance parameters between individuals that (i) took flight spontaneously or after being subjected to a simulated predator attack and (ii) varied in flight muscle ratio (FMR: thorax mass/total body mass). The results show that butterflies that were subjected to a simulated predator attack flew at higher velocities and straighter than butterflies that were allowed to take off spontaneously. Furthermore, our study suggests, for the first time, that butterflies may experience impaired escape ability after feeding, which directly leads to a decrease in FMR; a reduction from 0.5 to 0.3 reduced escape flight velocity by about 37% at 0.5 m from the start. Finally, this study shows that FMR affects take-off angle and sinuosity, with steeper angles and more turning in butterflies with low FMR.
Maria Almbro; Cecilia Kullberg
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of experimental biology     Volume:  211     ISSN:  0022-0949     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Exp. Biol.     Publication Date:  2008 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2007-12-17     Completed Date:  2008-03-13     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0243705     Medline TA:  J Exp Biol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  24-8     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, SE-106 91, Stockholm, Sweden.
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MeSH Terms
Butterflies / physiology*
Escape Reaction / physiology*
Flight, Animal / physiology*
Hibernation / physiology*
Muscles / physiology*

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