Habitat loss and climate change are rapidly converting natural habitats and thereby increasing the significance of dispersal capacity for vulnerable species. Flight is necessary for dispersal in many insects, and differences in dispersal capacity may reflect dissimilarities in flight muscle aerobic capacity. In a large metapopulation of the Glanville fritillary butterfly in the Åland Islands in Finland, adults disperse frequently between small local populations. Individuals found in newly established populations have higher flight metabolic rates and field-measured dispersal distances than butterflies in old populations. To assess possible differences in flight muscle aerobic capacity among Glanville fritillary populations, enzyme activities and tissue concentrations of the mitochondrial protein Cytochrome-c Oxidase (CytOx) were measured and compared with four other species of Nymphalid butterflies. Flight muscle structure and mitochondrial density were also examined in the Glanville fritillary and a long-distance migrant, the red admiral. Glanville fritillaries from new populations had significantly higher aerobic capacities than individuals from old populations. Comparing the different species, strong-flying butterfly species had higher flight muscle CytOx content and enzymatic activity than short-distance fliers, and mitochondria were larger and more numerous in the flight muscle of the red admiral than the Glanville fritillary. These results suggest that superior dispersal capacity of butterflies in new populations of the Glanville fritillary is due in part to greater aerobic capacity, though this species has a low aerobic capacity in general when compared with known strong fliers. Low aerobic capacity may limit dispersal ability of the Glanville fritillary.
- Behavior, Animal
- Body Size
- Flight, Animal
- Species Specificity
- Journal Article
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
- Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.