African Queens and Their Kin: A Darwinian Odyssey (Hardback)David A.S. Smith (author)
Hardback 800 Pages / Published: 10/11/2014
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For most of us who think we know about the biology of butterflies, this book is an amazing revelation. Using the model species the African Queen, Danaus chrysippus, the author takes us on a fascinating tour of the life history, ecology, genetics, behaviour, including mimicry, migration patterns and phylogeography of this important butterfly species complex and its closely related species and forms. Not only is this tour one progressed in space - Africa and other tropical countries of the world, as well as North America and Australia - but is also very much a journey in time. From these pages we learn how the insect evolved in its African home and it and its relatives slowly spread around the globe, mainly in the equatorial regions. Meanwhile populations were affected by both long and short-term climatic events, some of which caused them to be separated before they joined up again, time enough for substantial genetic changes to have occurred. The text is richly illustrated with colour photographs, tables, graphs, boxes with special information and numerous diagrams of phylogenetic relatedness. Truly a work to be studied and appreciated, both by students of butterflies and insects in general, as well as all who are interested in the natural world and wish to delve into some of its mysteries and strangeness. As examples of the last, these include many new and exciting discoveries - such as the fact that the butterflies suffer from male-killing endobacteria which greatly bias population sex ratios, to female lekking and lesbianism, cannibalism, rape, fratricide and pederasty, to male butterflies scratching the leaves of certain poisonous plants and, as these 'bleed', supping up the toxins which makes them attractive to their mates, the poisonous gift being duly passed on during mating and having an adaptive function in making the female butterfly's eggs and larvae (caterpillars) more unpalatable to predators and parasitic flies and wasps.
Publisher: Brambleby Books
Number of pages: 800
Dimensions: 235 x 165 mm
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