Monarch Butterflies: Fluctuating Asymmetry of the Eye

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Hailey McGee
Jered Nathan
Patrick Guerra


By Hailey McGee, Biological Sciences; Jered Nathan, University of Cincinnati

Advisor: Patrick Guerra

Presentation ID: 221

Abstract: Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) develop small deviations from the target phenotype to deal with different environmental and genetic stresses. These deviations fluctuate in the symmetry of their paired structures. One way their phenotype will vary is in their eyes to help them navigate during migration. Monarch butterflies have thousands of facets which are individual units that perceive light and images. These receptors use the sun as a directional tool to help the butterfly direct their flight to the south. Knowing this, we proceeded to collect data from monarch butterflies in different seasons. The data I will be presenting is comparing the number of facets in the left and right eyes in monarch butterflies in the spring, and in the fall. We collected butterflies from both seasons over a year, and counted the number of facets in each eye. The purpose of this was to evaluate if the monarch butterflies will have more symmetrical eyes in the fall since they rely more on solar cues during this time to migrate to the south. The analysis of our data, supports our speculation, and can be confirmed with further research.

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Category: The Natural World