Characterizing the Physical Differences between Urban and Non-urban Common Sulphur butterflies (Colias philodice)

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Matthew Toplikar
Patrick Guerra


Record ID: 195

Award(s): Excellence in Research Mentoring

Student Major: Biological Sciences; Biology of Animals

Project Advisor: Patrick Guerra

Abstract: We compared female common sulphur butterflies (Colias phildice) captured from urban and rural areas in the Greater Cincinnati Area to test the hypothesis that butterflies would differ between the two habitat types. We predicted that female urban butterflies would potentially be smaller than female rural butterflies due to potential resource limitation during development in urban areas as compared with rural habitats. Such resource limitation might be due to the effects of urbanization. Using head width, a commonly used metric that assesses butterfly body size, we found that female common sulphurs were significantly smaller when caught in urban habitats (e.g., Burnet Woods, Cincinnati, OH) relative to conspecific females caught in rural habitats (e.g., University of Cincinnati Center for Field Studies, Harrison, OH). Although we do not have records of where butterflies from both groups developed, our data do suggest differences between conspecifics when examined from different habitat-types. Future work will compare common sulphur males and developmental profiles for C. phildice when reared in either urban or rural conditions.

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Category: The Natural World
Author Biography

Matthew Toplikar

Major: Biological Sciences; Biology of Animals