Behaviour 2019
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Wing patterns, behavior, and seasonality in the common polyphenic butterfly Junonia coenia
Grace E. Hirzel, Erica L. Westerman. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, United States

Numerous animals exhibit plastic behaviors and morphology in response to seasonal environmental conditions. Junonia coenia is a common North American butterfly with seasonal wing patterns. Wing patterns are important for thermoregulation, mate choice, and camouflage in butterflies. We examined whether seasonal environmental conditions and wing patterns correspond to potential variation in behavior. We surveyed J. coenia for 3 years in 3 prairie sites in Northwest Arkansas from May to November.  Every 2 weeks we measured behavior during focal watches, transect walks, and point counts, and collected butterflies to examine seasonal wing patterns. Butterflies started exhibiting changes in wing pattern in September. Of the environmental conditions examined, previous week’s average temperature best predicted wing pattern. Butterflies exhibited seasonal behavior, but of the behaviors surveyed only basking behavior corresponded to changes in wing color. By defining the relationship between environmental conditions, wing patterning, and behavior we can better understand how changing habitats impact animals.