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Adult butterfly feeding-nectar flower associations: constraints of taxonomic affiliation, butterfly, and nectar flower morphology

By Ashish D. Tiple, Arun M. Khurad and Roger L.H. Dennis

Abstract

Butterfly-flower morphological interrelationships were investigated for 108 butterfly species and 20 plants at Nagpur, India. Distinct clusters of higher taxa (families) are disclosed for butterfly morphology and significant morphological and taxonomic associations occur in nectar exploitation. Flower corolla depth generally restricts exploitation by butterflies in relation to proboscis length and butterflies with high wing load indices bias their feeding to plants with massed flowers. However, important exceptions emerge; also, a substantial number of butterflies feed on plants with massed flowers though their proboscises are of marginal length for corolla depths. These butterfly species are significantly smaller, lighter, with lower wing loading and shorter proboscis indices than species which easily access the same flowering plant species. It is suggested that small size and short proboscises could give them a competitive advantage (increased rate of nectar uptake) for exploiting nectar in such situations. The significance of the findings for conservation is discussed

Topics: Biology and Microbiology, Ecology and Environment
Publisher: Taylor and Francis Ltd
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1080/00222930802610568
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:7799
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