Ultraviolet ornamentation and male mating success in a high-density assemblage of the butterfly Colias eurytheme

Darrell J. Kemp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Ultraviolet (UV) colour patterns, particularly those deriving from surface structures, serve a role in sexual signalling and mate choice in a range of animal groups. In the butterfly Colias eurytheme (Pieridae), male-limited iridescent UV functions in species recognition, and has potential as an intraspecific sexual signal of mate quality. I compared the dorsal colouration and body size of males discovered 'in-copula' (N = 95) with a random sample of free-flying individuals (N = 129), both collected from a high density agricultural population located in Chandler, U.S.A. Despite reasonable variance in each trait, I found no among-group differences in UV characters (brightness, hue and angular visibility) or in the coincident pigmentary yellowish-orange (brightness and saturation). Statistical power was sufficient to detect all but the smallest among-group differences, and there was a marginally significant tendency for in-copula males to be larger. These data do not support the hypothesis for intraspecific female choice upon male dorsal colouration. However, I discuss how the density and apparently very young age of individuals in the sampling population may have pre-disposed this result, and thus, how sexual selection on male colouration may operate in a density dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-684
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Insect Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Female mate choice
  • Lepidoptera
  • Sexual selection
  • Visual signalling


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