[leps-talk] D. plexippus megalippe vs plexippus

Ed Reinertsen ereinertsen at iprimus.com
Sun Sep 26 23:59:16 EDT 2004

Hey Paul, Woody, and all

I hope ya'll had a good weekend, I did.

Paul, Have you read Davis-Altizer poster/paper? (I found the paper on the

Title: Geographic Variation Among Monarch Butterfly Populations:
Migratory Behavior and the Evolution of Wing Morphology
Author(s): Andrew K. Davis and Sonia Altizer


Woody, I hope I'm not to late with this information, but you might have a
look at this paper and picture:


Title: Do North American monarch butterflies travel toCuba? - Stable isotope
and chemical tracer techniques
Author(s): Dockx C, Brower LP, Wassenaar LI, Hobson KA
Source: ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS 14 (4): 1106-1114 AUG 2004
IDS Number: 844KI
ISSN: 1051-0761
Cited References: 32

Abstract: Since the discovery of monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
overwintering colonies in Mexico in the 1970s, it was assumed that monarchs
from eastern North America migrated only to Mexico. This paper reveals that
monarchs from Canada and the east coast of the United States also regularly
travel to Cuba during the migration period. The natal grounds of Cuban
monarchs were determined through the combined use of stable hydrogen
(deltaD) and stable carbon (delta(13)C) isotope measurements and by
cardenolide fingerprint analysis using thin-layer chromatography (TLC). The
TLC data revealed that there was an influx of migrants in November to Cuba,
and the stable isotope data revealed that migrant Cuban monarchs
originated from southeastern Canada and the eastern United States. Our
findings suggest that North American migrant monarchs that move to Cuba
hybridize with resident populations there and do not return to the
continent. The differences in the natal grounds, migratory route, and
reproductive stages between monarchs wintering in Mexico and Cuba suggest
there are at least two subpopulations of eastern North American monarchs.
The extent to which Cuba may act as a bridge for monarch movement to the
Yucatan and other Caribbean islands and the genetic impact of this newly
revealed flux in monarch movements remain to be determined.
IDS Number: 844KI
ISSN: 1051-0761

Ed Reinertsen

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Paul Cherubini" <monarch at saber.net>
To: "Woody Woods" <woody.woods at umb.edu>
Cc: "TILS" <TILS-leps-talk at yahoogroups.com>; "leps-l"
<leps-l at lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Saturday, September 25, 2004 10:43 PM
Subject: Re: [leps-talk] D. plexippus megalippe vs plexippus

> Woody Woods wrote on 9/18:
> > I have chipped in on this subject before but am not, as I guess I have
> > apologized before, a taxonomist. I need to cite any known distinctions,
> > whether morphological or ecological, between D. plexippus plexippus and
> > Plexippus megalippe. What I know comes from Ackery and Vane-Wright's
> > "Milkweed Butterflies", W. Haber's 1993 article on Monarchs and other
> > Rican migrators, and direct experience-- and, um, they look pretty much
> > same to me, except that the Costa Rican D. p. megalippe undertakes a
> > short-range altitudinal migration and remains reproductively active
> > throughout.
> >
> > Any citeable references?
> Smith, D.S.., L.D. Miller, and J.Y. Miller, 1994.  The butterflies
> of the West Indies and south Florida.  Oxford University
> Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.
> This reference claims megalippe has shorter wings, generally darker
> coloration and a reduction of orange spots in the apex of the forewing.
> However, one can find plenty of examples of northern USA
> migratory monarchs that have stubby forewings, no orange spots
> on the apexes of the forewings and a dark, even smokey tan
> coloration.
> Conversely, in the lowlands of central Mexico where year round
> monarch breeding populations exist, I have captured bright orange
> monarchs that had long forewings including lots of orange on the
> apexes of the forewings.
> Paul Cherubini
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