Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Dr David Nash: The Alcon blue butterfly in Denmark - Coevolution and conservation

Seminar: Genetik, økologi og evolution

04.10.2019 | Anne Kirstine Mehlsen

Dato fre 04 okt
Tid 11:00 11:45
Sted Institut for Bioscience, Ny Munkegade 114-116, bygning 1540-229

Foredragsholder: Dr David Nash, KU



The Alcon blue butterfly (Phengaris (Maculinea) alcon) has an unusual life cycle, where it exploits two different organisms. Like most butterflies, its young caterpillars feed on a plant, the Marsh Gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe), but later instars enter the nests of Myrmica ants where they act as social parasites, eating the ants’ brood and out-competing the ant larvae for food brought back by the worker ants. This antagonistic relationship has led to a co-evolutionary arms race between the butterflies and ants, involving mimicry of the ants by the butterflies. Over the last 20 years we have been able to learn much about this coevolved system, but there are also some aspects that are still a mystery. Because the butterfly relies on access to the sufficient gentians and specific Myrmica species, it is inevitably rare, and a species of conservation concern in Denmark. I will review how we think coevolution works in this system and how that knowledge can be exploited for the conservation of the Alcon blue.

Institut for Bioscience, Offentligheden / Pressen, Medarbejdere