Checkerspot butterflies have been used as
an extraordinarily successful model system for more than four decades.
This volume presents the first synthesis of the broad range of studies
of that system as conducted in Ehrlich's research group in Stanford,
Hanski's research group in Helsinki, and elsewhere. Ehrlich's long-term
research project on Edith's checkerspot helped establish an integrated
discipline of population biology in the 1960s and ever since has
contributed many fundamental insights into the ecological and evolutionary
dynamics of populations. Hanski's and his associates' work on the
Glanville fritillary for the past 14 years has been instrumental
in establishing the field of metapopulation biology and showing
how theoretical and empirical work can be effectively combined in
the same project.
This volume covers an overview of the taxonomy and ecology of checkerspot
butterflies; population structure and dynamics of the two focal
species and comparisons with other species; reproductive biology;
larval biology; natural enemies; dispersal behavior; evolutionary
metapopulation dynamics; genetics; implications for conducting research
on model systems in population biology; and messages for conservation.
Research on checkerspot butterflies clearly demonstrates the benefits
of long-term studies on model systems in population biology. One
of the key messages is the pervasive influence of the small-scale
spatial structure of populations and metapopulations on their ecology,
genetics and evolutionary dynamics. A wealth of information from
this work strengthens the conceptual framework of population biology
in general and conservation biology in particular.