Posts Tagged ‘Butterflies’

Zebra’s Stripes, Butterfly’s Wings: How Do Biological Patterns Emerge?

June 23, 2008

A zebra’s stripes, a seashell’s spirals, a butterfly’s wings: these are all examples of patterns in nature. The formation of patterns is a puzzle for mathematicians and biologists alike. How does the delicate design of a butterfly’s wings come from a single fertilized egg? How does pattern emerge out of no pattern?

Using computer models and live cells, researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered a specific pattern that can direct cell movement and may help us understand how metastatic cancer cells move.

“Pattern formation is a classic problem in embryology,” says Denise Montell, Ph.D., a professor of biological chemistry at Hopkins. “At some point, cells in an embryo must separate into those that will become heart cells, liver cells, blood cells and so on. Although this has been studied for years, there is still a lot we don’t understand.”

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Rare butterflies breed again after being wiped out in Britain three decades ago

June 16, 2008

This picture of two rare butterflies getting amorous with one another has given fresh hope for the future of species that was once extinct in Britain.

Conservationists who are trying to re-populate the Large Blue butterfly in the wild are delighted with the sight which proves their programme is working.

The insect was wiped out completely in Britain in 1979 after the habitat in which they cacoon themselves as caterpillars was hit after an outbreak of the virus myxomatosis.

In more recent years the Butterfly Conservation charity launched a project to re-introduce them in Britain by using relative caterpillars from Sweden.

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Brown Argus Butterfly Sees Positive Effects Of Climate Change

June 6, 2008

The Brown Argus butterfly Aricia agestis has expanded northwards in Britain during the last 30 years. It is thought that the recent expansion of the species is due to the increasing summer temperatures caused by global warming.

Research carried out by scientists in the UK and Spain reveals that by moving into new areas, the Brown Argus may be escaping from some of its ‘natural enemies’ (parasitoids).

This is not because natural enemies are absent from the new areas, but that the parasitoids are not able to locate the Brown Argus. Instead, the parasitoids rely on the common blue butterfly Polyommatus icarus in these northern habitats. This species has a long-established range throughout Britain and suffers a larger amount of parasitism than the Brown Argus in these northern habitats.

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Why Britain’s butterflies are desperate for a dry summer

April 27, 2008

Britain’s butterflies are in desperate need of good weather in 2008 or they may experience a population “catastrophe”, conservationists said yesterday.

They were dealt a massive blow by the record wet summer of last year, new figures reveal. Many species were already declining and the heavy rainfall may have caused them to disappear in many parts of Britain.

Plenty of sunshine is now essential for populations of many species to recover. Survey figures for 2007, released yesterday, reveal that as a consequence of the wet weather, British butterflies collectively suffered their worst year for more than a quarter of a century. Butterflies do not fly in the rain, making it impossible for them to reach the plants whose nectar they feed on, and heavy rain also means they are unable to breed.

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When little things that rule world are lost

April 14, 2008

There are 6.5 billion people in the world today, three times as many as 50 years ago. There are undoubtedly three billion fewer insects, the forgotten creatures that maintain the fabric of life.

These include bees, butterflies, moths and all flying mites and invertebrates and sea creatures that inhabit earth and slime. Not many people, excepting scientists who watch and count, pay much attention.

Almost everybody is aware of the travails of the major star species such as polar bears, pandas and tigers. We are reminded on a daily basis of their endangerment. There was a scare about bees last year but honey is still in the supermarkets so the bee colony collapse is more or less old news.

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Insects not as attracted to flowers as they used to be

March 28, 2008

The scent of flowers may become a thing of the past, say researchers, who suggest pollution is destroying the natural perfume.

As well as swamping the more delicate fragrances, pollution breaks down the natural scents that flowers emit to attract insects. It also reduces the distance the fragrance can travel, meaning that bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects are less likely to be drawn to the flower, says the study published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

Flowering plants can also absorb pollutants, making them less attractive to insects.

Scientists believe this explains the marked decline of some plants and the insects they rely on for pollination.

Jose Fuentes, a professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, who led the study said: “The greater the amount of pollutants in the air, the greater the rate of destruction of the flower scents.”

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