Distribution of Topical Butterflies in Disturbed Island Habitats of Bocas del Toro, Panamá

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Crees, Logan
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Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression
Iowa State University Conferences and Symposia

The Symposium provides undergraduates from all academic disciplines with an opportunity to share their research with the university community and other guests through conference-style oral presentations. The Symposium represents part of a larger effort of Iowa State University to enhance, support, and celebrate undergraduate research activity.

Though coordinated by the University Honors Program, all undergraduate students are eligible and encouraged to participate in the Symposium. Undergraduates conducting research but not yet ready to present their work are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the presentation process and students not currently involved in research are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the broad range of undergraduate research activities that are taking place at ISU.

The first Symposium was held in April 2007. The 39 students who presented research and their mentors collectively represented all of ISU's Colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Design, Engineering, Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, and the Graduate College. The event has grown to regularly include more than 100 students presenting on topics that span the broad range of disciplines studied at ISU.

School for Field Studies

Rhopalocera (butterflies) are considered to be an indicator for environmental health and quality. But little is known about how butterflies are distributed within tropical landscapes. In order to better understand how to use butterflies as indicators of environmental health, it’s important to know how butterflies are distributed throughout the landscape. Disturbed lowland evergreen rainforest offer many habitat types with varying degrees of canopy coverage and understory growth. These areas are currently experiencing widespread anthropogenic disturbance. Because of this, several studies have been conducted to examine the effects of disturbance on butterfly species in an attempt to better understand the effect on the ecological community as a whole. This study looks at the distribution of butterflies in tropical island habitats and found that butterflies are typically found in areas where more light exist, though one family, Riodinidae was found to have a weak negative correlation to canopy openness. It was also found that butterflies in the family Nymphalidae and Hesperiidae were most abundant in tropical island habitats.

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