Meeting Abstract

39.5  Saturday, Jan. 5  Shaping up: Aerodynamics and evolution of butterfly wing planform CRALL, JD*; KOVAC, M; CORNWALL, M; WOOD, RJ; PIERCE , NE; COMBES, SA; Concord Field Station, Harvard University; Imperial College London; Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University; Wyss Institute, Harvard University; Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University; Concord Field Station, Harvard University jcrall@oeb.harvard.edu

Wing shape is likely to be an important factor in aerodynamic force production and efficiency in insects. Despite a wealth of studies on wing shape in both birds and bats, however, relatively few studies have investigated the importance of wing shape for insects. For 270 species of butterflies (Rhopalocera), we extracted wing outlines from images of male specimens. For each of these wing outlines, we calculated wing centroid and aspect ratio values, as well as estimating body mass and wing loading from specimen images. Wing centroid and aspect ratio vary systematically with body size, with a smaller wing centroid and higher aspect ratio associated with larger body size in butterflies. Lower wing centroids are also strongly associated with higher wing loading. Comparative analysis shows these relationships are independent of the phylogenetic history of the species studied. Finally, steady-state computational fluid dynamics analysis of the same wing shapes across a range of Reynolds numbers confirms that wing shape has a strong influence on aerodynamic efficiency of wings. This study indicates that wing shape (a) has phenotypic consequences for insect flight performance and (b) shows strong variation across insects, and is thus an excellent candidate for future comparative studies on insect flight performance.