Evolutionary changes of morphology and behaviour in a woodland butterfly (Pararge aegeria</em> L.) due to habitat fragmentation (II)


The purpose of this PhD-project is to investigate whether habitat fragmentation leads to micro-evolutionary changes in morphological and behavioural (mate-locating behaviour) traits relating to mobility in butterflies. The study species is Pararge aegeria. The main question is whether there are differences in individual mobility traits among butterfly populations which are characterised by a different type of habitat fragmentation, using morphologically relevant traits and dispersal assessments.

Opposed to certain effects, in this project we focus on a less frequently examined effect of habitat fragmentation, namely the possible micro evolutionary changes in populations concerning morphology and behaviour. We take into consideration that behaviour systems (e.g. mate-locating behaviour) can act as constraints in the evolution of dispersal ability.

Purposes :
1) Examining the degree of variety in individual mobility features among 8 butterfly populations of Pararge aegeria (speckled wood butterfly) that are characterized by a different degree of habitat fragmentation. This is done by means of morphologically relevant features on the one hand and by estimations of dispersal on the other hand. Together with that we investigate whether that variety is seasonal (spring/summer generations).
2) Corroborating the hypothesis whether those differences in mobility can be explained as an evolutionary response. Therefore we determine the heritability of the revealed variety in morphological and behavioral characteristics by means of a common garden experiment. We examine whether and to which extent there is any gene flow among populations as well.
3) We investigate how far the mate-locating system, or its relation with morphology gets influenced by habitat fragmentation.


Arthropoda, behavioural changes, Belgium, cultivated and artificial habitats, ecology, ethology, evolutionary changes, Flanders, forests, habitat fragmentation, Insecta, Lepidoptera, Metazoa, morphological changes, Parage aegeria, Satyridae, dispersal, mobility, flight-related morphology, genetic variation


Belgium {Geographical scope}
Forest {Habitat type}


Name Role Start End
Matthysen, Erik promotor
Van Dyck, Hans co-promotor


Name Role Start End
Laboratory of Animal Ecology unknown


Name Role Start End
Evolutionary changes of morphology and behaviour in a woodland butterfly (Pararge aegeria</em> L.) due to habitat fragmentation (I) partner

created:2011-12-14 14:18:59 UTC, source:iweto

© 2012 by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform