Effects of temperature on host plant selection by a tropical butterfly species
In this study, we examined whether female Bicyclus anynana butterflies can enhance their reproductive performance by modifying host plant use in response to challenging temperature regimes. We investigated (1) whether exposure to variable thermal conditions affected reproductive output when females had access to only one host plant, and (2) whether this in turn affected the oviposition preference for host plants of different quality under laboratory conditions. We expected hot conditions to reduce the reproductive performance (egg number, offspring survival and performance) of butterflies. Such deleterious effects may, however, be counterbalanced by a higher selectivity for high-quality plants when females have simultaneous access to plants of different quality. We found that the reproductive performance of butterflies was indeed reduced when they experienced hot conditions. These temperature effects were only observed when butterflies only had access to a low-quality plant. However, individuals did not increase their selectivity towards the higher-quality host plant in response to hot conditions, possibly because of fecundity costs associated with increased choosiness.