Life cycle differences between hybridizing butterfly species

Project Description : 

Two sulfur butterflies inhabiting fields and roadsides throughout North America hybridize frequently in nature. But, they don't blend into one species, nor does one of the pair drive the other to extinction. We don't know how they can coexist. One idea is that they have subtle differences in their life cycles that have different advantages at different times of the year. Experiments we've done in the past have given conflicting results, and we need to repeat them.

I'm looking for a team of two people to tackle the problem once and for all. They both need to be in the Amherst area during at least the first half of the summer. Freshmen-juniors; interested in working with insects and plants; interested in ecology and evolution.

Attend weekly lab meetings,
Read, analyze and discuss scientific articles relevant to the research project,
Help set up the insectary area,
Grow plants to feed to caterpillars,
Catch and feed butterflies, get eggs,
Maintain growing caterpillars and collect data on growth rates.
Hrs/wk: about 5 until April, increasing to ~10 late into the semester and into the early summer.

Opportunities to continue research next year.

Student Ranks Applicable: 

Hours Per Week: 


Credit Hours: 

Honors Thesis: 

Name of Lab: 

Porter Lab

Contact Person: 

Adam Porter

Contact E-mail: