Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]

Alternative Title

Variación en la altitud en los patrones de color de Ithomiinae (Nymphalidae)



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Publication Date

May 2007


Ithomiine butterflies contain several color complexes that fly at different heights in the forest, presumably in response to light conditions (Papageorgis 1975; Burd 1994). If so, these complexes should also respond to altitude, as light conditions in the forest change altitudinally. A previous study by Haber (1978) showed that color complexes do respond to altitude, but in a way inconsistent with light response. Either the previous study failed to incorporate forest conditions, like openness, which also alter light levels, or ithomiine color complexes are responding to altitude for different reasons, including the possibility that each color complex had a different center-of-origin corresponding with different elevations. We caught butterflies in closed forest conditions along both slopes of the continental divide in Monteverde, Costa Rica at seven different sites along an altitudinal gradient, from 800 m to 1600 m. Two of the three color complexes responded to altitude, but in ways inconsistent with our expected light response. Clearwings, which favor dark conditions, were more abundant at high altitudes while tiger stripe species, favoring strong, direct and sun-fleck light conditions, were only found at lower altitudes on both slopes. Pacific slope forests generally had more open canopies but the patterns were nearly symmetrical on both slopes. Therefore, we conclude that the change was more likely a result of color complexes evolving at different altitudes and secondarily migrating out of these altitudinal bands. Additionally, light and altitude seem to cause a more complicated relationship than expected, probably because of increased cloud cover and epiphytic growth with increased altitude. Las mariposas Ithomiinae contienen varios complejos de colores que vuelan a differentes alturas en el bosque, presumiblemente en respuesta a condiciones de luz (Papageorgis 1975; Burd. 1994). Si es así, estos complejos también debe responder a la altitud, a como cambian altitudinalmente las condiciones de luz en el bosque. Un estudio previo realizado por Haber (1978) demostró que los complejos de color responden a la altitud, pero de una manera incompatible con la respuesta de la luz. O bien el estudio previo no incorporo las condiciones del bosque, como la apertura, que también alteran los niveles de luz, o los complejos de color Ithomiinae están respondiendo a la altitud por diversas razones, incluyendo la posibilidad de que cada complejo de color tenía otro centro de origen correspondiente con diferentes alturas. Cogimos a las mariposas en condiciones de bosque cerrado a lo largo de ambas vertientes de la división continental en Monteverde, Costa Rica en siete puntos diferentes a lo largo de un gradiente altitudinal, desde 800m hasta 1600m.


Nymphalidae, Environmental impact analysis, Analisis de impacto ambiental, Butterflies, Mariposas, Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Monteverde Zone, Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Zona de Monteverde, CIEE Spring 2007, CIEE Primavera 2007


Student Affiliation : Department of Biology, Colorado College Born Digital

Subject: topical

Nymphalidae; Environmental impact analysis; Analisis de impacto ambiental; Butterflies; Mariposas; CIEE Spring 2007; CIEE Primavera 2007

Subject: geographic

Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Monteverde Zone; Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Zona de Monteverde



Holding Location

|Monteverde Institute MVI



Altitudinal variation in Ithomiine (Nymphalidae) color patterns



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