Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Science Article Summary - 2

Science Article Summary - 2

'Supersized' monarch butterflies evolved to fly far

[1] M. Walker, “'Supersized' butterflies fly far,” BBC, Jan. 2010.[Online]. Available: [Accessed: Jan. 27, 2010].

     According to many researchers, Monarch butterflies have become "supersized" in order to adapt to the issues of long distance flight during their migrations.  The migration distance on average is near 8000 kilometers of flying between the United States, Canada, and Mexico as the butterflies search for places with warmer temperatures.  Several other researchers have shown that all butterfly types adapt to long distance migrations in much the same way, but this study was the first to prove that butterflies of the same species can adapt and evolve in different ways depending on the presence or absence of migration.  According to a professor at the University of Georgia, the wing span difference between the migrating monarchs and the non-migrating monarchs varied drastically, allowing them to confirm that longer wings were suited much better for migratory butterflies.

     Most people only know that migrating monarchs exist because of their large migration groups which catch quite a bit of attention, but in reality there is a large population of monarchs in the tropical areas around the Caribbean which do not migrate and instead breed year round.  This radical difference between the lifestyles of different monarchs is the sole attributing factor to the 14% increase in wing length of those monarchs who migrate versus those who don't.  The researchers at the University of Georgia have also discovered that the trait which causes the long wings is an inherited trait instead of an actual adaptation, showing that the monarch population is continually evolving to fit their environment.

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