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New research from Case Western Reserve University in how dragonflies may adapt their wing color to temperature differences might explain color variation in other animals, from lions to birds.
Further, the findings could also provide evolutionary biologists clues about whether rising global temperatures might adversely affect some species.
Michael - Moore - Graduate - Biology - Student
Michael Moore, a graduate biology student, and Ryan Martin, an assistant professor of biology, recently published their findings in the journal Ecology Letters.
"People have long been aware of variation in dragonfly wing color, but what we are showing in this new work is an overlooked environmental factor—how temperature affects coloration," Martin said. "This could turn out to also determine some of the really cool extravagant traits we like to look at, such as coloration in birds."
Findings - Study - Hunch - Wing - Color
Their findings follow a two-year study that began with a hunch about how the wing color on male Blue Dasher dragonflies in the western United States was different from their counterparts in Northeast Ohio.
They reviewed vast amounts of dragonfly photographs compiled by citizen scientists on the website iNaturalist.org and then, with the help of graduate student Iulian Gherghel, cross-referenced that information with weather data.
Pictures - Couch - Research - Moore - Laugh
"I went through 600 pictures from the couch to begin this research," said Moore with a laugh. "After that, it was just mapping it with the corresponding environmental and weather data. It turns out that males in the hottest parts of North America have way less colorful wings, and we wanted to know why. "
But the research really took off in the summer of 2017 at the Case Western Reserve farm in Hunting Valley, Ohio, as Moore and Hathaway Brown high-school student Cassandra Lis chased down male dragonflies as they fought to defend their respective territories surrounding a pond.
Series - Experiments - Male - Body - Series
Across a series of experiments, they then marked each male's body with a series of colors for individual...
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