Preference and performance in a population of checkerspot butterflies with known diet history
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This thesis describes a relationship between maternal preference and offspring performance in a population of the butterfly Euphydryas editha that used two host plants, Pedicularis semibarbata and Collinsia torreyi from 1979 to 2001, but now no longer uses Collinsia. In the light of the known history of diet change in this butterfly population, it is not surprising that maternal oviposition preference was variable. Although the diet of the butterflies that evolved rapidly in the 1980’s is no longer changing, I still discovered some females with a chemical preference for Collinsia. This seems to be a legacy of recent anthropogenic diet evolution. The evolution of host preference of females in Rabbit Meadow has not finished yet. Variation of offspring weight and survival were measured and showed a complex relationship with adult preference. Although quite a few adults strongly rejected Collinsia, their offspring grew well on this host, and there was no significant trend for the offspring of strongly Pedicularis-preferring butterflies to perform more poorly on Collinsia.