Next Article in Journal
Minimum Winter Temperature as a Limiting Factor of the Potential Spread of Agrilus planipennis, an Alien Pest of Ash Trees, in Europe
Previous Article in Journal
Mazes to Study the Effects of Spatial Complexity, Predation and Population Density on Mate Finding
Open AccessArticle

Her Majesty’s Desert Throne: The Ecology of Queen Butterfly Oviposition on Mojave Milkweed Host Plants

1
Wild Energy Initiative, John Muir Institute of the Environment, University of California, Davis, 1 Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616, USA
2
Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of California, Davis, 1 Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616, USA
3
Center for Population Biology, University of California, Davis, 1 Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616, USA
4
Department of Land, Air & Water Resources, University of California, Davis, 1 Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current address: Pacific Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 3020 State University Drive East, Sacramento, CA 95819, USA.
Insects 2020, 11(4), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11040257
Received: 23 March 2020 / Revised: 12 April 2020 / Accepted: 18 April 2020 / Published: 21 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Butterfly Biodiversity and Conservation)
Butterfly–host plant relationships can inform our understanding of ecological and trophic interactions that contribute to ecosystem function, resiliency, and services. The ecology of danaid–milkweed (Apocynaceae) host plant interactions has been studied in several biomes but is neglected in deserts. Our objective was to determine effects of plant traits, seasonality, and landscape-level host plant availability on selection of Mojave milkweed (Asclepias nyctaginifolia A. Gray) by ovipositing monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus plexippus) and queen butterflies (Danaus gilippus thersippus) in the Californian Mojave Desert. We surveyed all known Mojave milkweed locations in the Ivanpah Valley, California (n = 419) during early, mid-, and late spring in 2017. For each survey, we counted monarch and queen butterfly eggs on each Mojave milkweed plant. We also measured canopy cover, height, volume, and reproductive stage of each Mojave milkweed plant. We counted a total of 276 queen butterfly eggs and zero monarch butterfly eggs on Mojave milkweed host plants. We determined that count of queen butterfly eggs significantly increased with increasing Mojave milkweed canopy cover. Additionally, count of queen butterfly eggs was: (1) greater on adult Mojave milkweed plants than on juvenile and seedling plants and greater on juvenile Mojave milkweed plants than on seedling plants; and (2) greater during early spring than mid-spring—we recorded no eggs during late spring. Based on aggregation indices, queen butterfly eggs occurred on Mojave milkweed plants in a nonrandom, clustered pattern throughout the Ivanpah Valley. We provide the first evidence of trophic interactions between queen butterflies and Mojave milkweed at multiple spatial scales in the Mojave Desert, suggesting that conservation and management practices for both species should be implemented concurrently. Given its role as an herbivore, pollinator and prey, the queen butterfly may serve as a model organism for understanding effects of anthropogenic disturbance (e.g., solar energy development) on “bottom-up” and trophic interactions among soils, plants and animals in desert ecosystems. View Full-Text
Keywords: Danaus; host plant; insect–plant interactions; Mojave Desert; Mojave milkweed; oviposition; queen butterfly Danaus; host plant; insect–plant interactions; Mojave Desert; Mojave milkweed; oviposition; queen butterfly
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Grodsky, S.M.; Saul-Gershenz, L.S.; Moore-O’Leary, K.A.; Hernandez, R.R. Her Majesty’s Desert Throne: The Ecology of Queen Butterfly Oviposition on Mojave Milkweed Host Plants. Insects 2020, 11, 257.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Search more from Scilit
 
Search
Back to TopTop