The beauty and grace of butterflies have long captivated people around the world, but their diversity and complexity have drawn the special attention of amateur and professional scientists since at least the time of Darwin. Thanks to this long history of research, more is known about butterflies than is known about almost any other group of insects. In "Butterflies: Ecology and Evolution Taking Flight", the world's leading experts synthesize current knowledge of butterflies to show how the study of these fascinating creatures as model systems can lead to deeper understanding of ecological and evolutionary patterns and processes in general. The 26 chapters are organized into broad functional areas, covering the uses of butterflies in the study of behaviour, ecology, genetics and evolution, systematics, and conservation biology.
Especially in the context of the current biodiversity crisis, this book shows how results found with butterflies can help us understand large, rapid changes in the world we share with them - for example, geographic distributions of some butterflies have begun to shift in response to global warming, giving early evidence of climate change that scientists, politicians and citizens alike should heed. The first international synthesis of butterfly biology in two decades, "Butterflies: Ecology and Evolution Taking Flight" offers students, scientists and amateur naturalists a concise overview of the latest developments in the field. Furthermore, it articulates an exciting new perspective of the whole group of approximately 15,000 species of butterflies as a comprehensive model system for all the sciences concerned with biodiversity and its preservation. 30 colour plates, 3 halftones, 110 line drawings, 59 tables