AbstractsBiology & Animal Science

Testing Local Adaptation Of The Federally Endangered Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides Melissa Samuelis) To Its Single Host Plant The Wild Lupine (Lupinus Perennis)

by Kevin Handel

Institution: Bowling Green State University
Department: Biological Sciences
Degree: MS
Year: 2015
Keywords: Biology; Ecology; Entomology; Evolution and Development; Plant Sciences; Karner; Blue; Butterfly; Local; Adaptation; Lupine; Ecology; Evolution
Record ID: 2058975
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=bgsu1429214530


Local adaptation has been shown to be a key process that drives the evolution of species, influencing both their physical characteristics and ecological interactions. Local adaptation is generally expressed by higher fitness of individuals raised in their native habitats versus in a foreign location. The influence of local adaptation is especially prominent in species that subsist in small and/or highly isolated populations. This study evaluates the degree to which the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) is locally adapted to its exclusive larval host plant, wild lupine (Lupinus perennis). To test for local adaptation of the Karner blue butterfly, individuals from a laboratory-raised colony were reared on wild lupine plants from populations belonging to either their native or foreign region. Specifically, nine wild lupine populations from three different regions: Indiana (native), Michigan (foreign) and Wisconsin (foreign) were grown in a common garden using growth chambers and one Karner blue larva was placed on each plant. Fitness traits related to growth and development of this butterfly on the different populations were recorded. Survival and days from pupation to eclosion both showed significant differences across wild lupine populations, indicating that wild lupine source can affect some fitness-related traits of Karner blue butterflies. However, this influence was not manifested as higher fitness on native plant populations. Results from this study have implications for programs attempting to reintroduce Karner blue butterfly populations across their historical range. The apparent absence of local adaptation to wild lupine suggests that at least some individuals of this species could be translocated from native populations to foreign reintroduction sites without experiencing decreased fitness levels. However, because variation was observed for some fitness related traits and our experimental design did not encompass all spatial, temporal, and environmental factors that could influence adaptation, future studies are recommended. Future research should evaluate butterflies from different sources and test plants on a wider spatial scale and between diverse microclimates.