Rapid Natural and Anthropogenic Diet Evolution: Three Examples from Checkerspot Butterflies

Michael C. Singer, Brian Wee, Sara Hawkins and Marie Butcher

in Specialization, Speciation, and Radiation

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780520251328
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933828 | DOI:
Rapid Natural and Anthropogenic Diet Evolution: Three Examples from Checkerspot Butterflies

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This chapter describes a small but unbiased sample of evolutionary changes: three evolutionary host shifts undertaken by a single butterfly species, Edith's checkerspot, Euphydryas editha. The first host shift is a straightforward and clearly anthropogenic event at Schneider's Meadow (Carson City, Nevada) triggered by the introduction of an exotic species. The second, at Rabbit Meadow (Sequoia National Forest, California) is also anthropogenic but less obviously so, since it is caused by changes in the quality and distribution of native plants. The third host shift, at Sonora Junction in California, is a natural one, in which a natural population extinction and recolonization drove an expansion of diet breadth when a previously rejected host was incorporated into the diet. These observations of host shifts were made by repeatedly censusing naturally laid eggs and larvae of E. editha at more than fifty sites. The chapter also examines the mechanics of evolution of oviposition preference at Rabbit Meadow, speed of evolution and diversity of preference, types of anthropogenic effect, and cryptically anthropogenic effects.

Keywords: Euphydryas editha; diet; evolution; host shifts; Edith's checkerspot; Schneider's Meadow; Rabbit Meadow; Sonora Junction; anthropogenic effects; oviposition

Chapter.  11779 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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