Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus Proboscis 2...

Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus Proboscis 2591px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does anyone know of a student of entomology looking for a thesis topic?

Following the slide Joe Stephenson presented at the 9 December 2013 meeting of the Otter Valley Naturalists which documented the decline of monarchs, it occurred to me one might expect a secondary effect of the decline of monarchs on the numbers of viceroys.  With the recent and dramatic decline of the monarch butterfly population, it might provide a means to re-examine the aspects of the mimicry of the viceroy butterfly outside of the laboratory.  If the viceroys are Batesian mimics of the monarchs, one could expect the population of viceroys to also drop dramatically as new generations of their potential predators view viceroys as desirable food.  If the viceroys are Müllerian co-mimics of monarchs, one would expect some less dramatic drop in their populations as viceroys would not have the benefit of monarch sacrifices to help educate their mutual predators.  Of course this assumes that the main agents of the monarch decline are not also directly and negatively affecting the viceroys.

 

 

A related article about the two types of mimicry can be found at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v350/n6318/abs/350497a0.html

 

Bruce Bolin

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