Posted by: oikosasa | April 26, 2013

How to find a mate? The virtues of imperfectness in a complex world

Read about butterflies finding romance in the mountains in the new Early View paper “Simple rules for complex landscapes: the case of hilltopping movements and topography” by Guy Peer and colleagues. here’s Guy’s summary of the paper:

Mating on a hilltop

Mating on a hilltop

You are lost in an unfamiliar, hilly landscape. What shall you do? Most people would ascend the nearest hill and try to get a good overview. Butterflies may have much more limited vision, but they manage quite effectively in aggregating on mountain tops which serve as rendezvous for mating. An individual-based model which focuses on this “hilltopping” phenomenon identifies simple behavioural rules that can optimise mating success, and the success of mated females in finding habitat patches, across landscapes regardless of their complexity. One interesting rule is: when moving uphill, butterflies should respond strongly but not ‘perfectly’ to topography. A perfect response, without occasional random movements, would simply trap them on local summits. If such mild randomness might be adaptive, shall we adopt the rule and accept our imperfections? At least for butterflies, it clearly helps finding a mate.

Fighting overe a female on a hilltop

Fighting overe a female on a hilltop

Guy Pe’er when chasing hilltopping butterflies in Israel, long ago when doing his PhD. While his “hilltopping model” is by now 12 years old, new results continue to emerge.

Guy Pe’er when chasing hilltopping butterflies in Israel, long ago when doing his PhD. While his “hilltopping model” is by now 12 years old, new results continue to emerge.
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