Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]

Alternative Title

La influencia de la forma de la hoja en la composición de las mariposas en Heliconius spp.



Download Full Text (301 KB)

Publication Date

November 2000


Between species the leaf morphology of Passiflora (Passifloraceae) differ greatly in leaf shape. These differences may be attributed to the presence of Heliconius larvae, who feed exclusively on Passiflora. Adult females may use leaf shape as an oviposition cue, thus the importance of the changing leaf morphology. This study was conducted in an enclosure in the Monteverde Butterfly Garden where I studied three species of Heliconius butterflies: Heliconius hecale, H. charitonius and H. erato. I studied the oviposition behavior on Passiflora biflora due to the varying leaf shapes present, which are two and three lobed leaves. Egg placement showed that Heliconius tend to deposit about half of their eggs on objects other than leaves, such as tendrils (49%) and other miscellaneous objects (8%), without regard to the nearest leaf. The remaining eggs, 43%, were deposited on leaves, with a majority of these deposited on newly unopened leaves. With these unopened leaves, ovipositing females were unable to use leaf shape in discriminating oviposition sites. Of the remaining 35% of the leaves, 2/3 was two lobed and 1/3 were three lobed. Comparing the relative frequencies of two lobed and three lobed showed no preference for one (X² = 93.73, D.F. = 1). Therefore, Heliconius butterflies do not rely on leaf shape to locate host plants and determine oviposition sites, at least in this study. Leaf shape may be a major factor in a more complex habitat with increased rates of other factors such as competition, climate and resource variability. Alternatively, leaf shape variability may be used for other purposes such as to prevent shading of lower leaves and predator avoidance by confusion.


Se estudió los efectos de la forma de las hojas en Passiflora biflora con la frecuencia que especies de mariposas del género Heliconius depositan sus huevos en las hojas. Este estudió se llevó a cabo por quince días en el Jardin de Mariposas en Monteverde, Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Los datos sugieren que las mariposas prefieran zarcillos y hojas nuevas. Estos datos sugieren que la forma de las hojas no es un factor importante en donde las mariposas depositan sus huevos. Tal vez, mis datos sugieren que esta es una aproximada adaptación por la carrera de la evolución entre las mariposas y la Passiflora. Quizás, hay diferencias entre las formas morfológicas de las hojas para evitar los depredadores o no obscura las hojas más bajas de la misma planta. Aproximadamente en medio del tiempo las mariposas depositan en objetivos que no son hojas, sin importar la forma de la próxima hoja.


Butterflies--Reproduction, CIEE Fall 2000

Palabras claves

Mariposas--Reproducción, CIEE Otoño 2000


10 pages

Geographic Location

Monteverde (Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

Holding Location

Monteverde Institute


English; Spanish

Media Type



Digital Only





The influence of leaf shape of Passiflora biflora in Heliconius spp. butterfly oviposition



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.