Comparative Morphology of Sensilla Styloconica on the Proboscis of North American Nymphalidae and Other Selected Taxa: Systematic and Ecological Considerations.

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Sensilla styloconica on the proboscis of 107 species of North American and tropical butterflies were comparatively studied using the scanning electron microscope. Focus was on 76 species of North American Nymphalidae representing 45 genera and 11 subfamilies. Nomenclature for generalized and specific types of nymphalid sensilla is proposed. Written descriptions and micrographs are presented for each species studied. Morphological features were generally consistent for all or most species within genera and sometimes within subfamilies, with specified exceptions. Statistical analysis revealed significant differences for six of eight variables tested between two distinct feeding guilds of North American Nymphalidae. Average number, density, ... continued below

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Petr, Daniel December 2001.

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  • Petr, Daniel

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Sensilla styloconica on the proboscis of 107 species of North American and tropical butterflies were comparatively studied using the scanning electron microscope. Focus was on 76 species of North American Nymphalidae representing 45 genera and 11 subfamilies. Nomenclature for generalized and specific types of nymphalid sensilla is proposed. Written descriptions and micrographs are presented for each species studied. Morphological features were generally consistent for all or most species within genera and sometimes within subfamilies, with specified exceptions. Statistical analysis revealed significant differences for six of eight variables tested between two distinct feeding guilds of North American Nymphalidae. Average number, density, extent of proboscis coverage with sensilla, their total length, and shoulder spine length were all significantly greater in the non-nectar feeding guild than in nectar feeders, and may indicate adaptation for greater efficiency in feeding on flat surfaces. The greater frequency of apical shoulder spines in non-nectar feeders may represent adaptation for protection of sensory pegs from mechanical abrasion during feeding, or for anchoring the flexible proboscis tip to the surface. Correlation analysis revealed 9 out of 28 positive correlations in nectar feeders and 5 out of 28 in non-nectar feeders. Results of preliminary cladistic analysis were not considered to be meaningfully robust due to few available characters. The stylar characters identified in this study should be more useful in future analyses when included with characters from other lines of evidence. The presence of sensilla styloconica in all subfamilies of Nymphalidae, except Danainae, largely supports Ehrlich's (1958) higher classification concept for the family. The presence of less conspicuous sensilla in the Danainae, and other characteristics are presented as further evidence that they should be reconsidered for full family status. Sensilla styloconica in nymphalid butterflies appear to function as extensions that provide greater sensory reach during feeding. The role of these sensilla in liquid uptake, pollen feeding, and host plant selection is discussed.

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  • December 2001

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  • Sept. 25, 2007, 10:41 p.m.

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  • July 1, 2015, 1:15 p.m.

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Petr, Daniel. Comparative Morphology of Sensilla Styloconica on the Proboscis of North American Nymphalidae and Other Selected Taxa: Systematic and Ecological Considerations., dissertation, December 2001; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3002/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .