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I am a graduate student studying with Dan Papaj in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. I obtained my B.S. in Biology and minored in Animal Behavior and Chemistry at Indiana University.

I am interested in how larval nutrition affects adult sensory use in cabbage white butterflies, Pieris rapae. Animals interact with their environment using an integration of sensory systems, and vision is a particularly interesting sensory system because it is directly linked to an animal’s nutritional status. Functional photopigments in the eye require carotenoid precursors that animals cannot synthesize de novo, which forces animals to rely on their diet to obtain these necessary precursors. Deficiencies in dietary carotenoids can have detrimental effects on the development of the visual system, which may impact visually-mediated behaviors. For animals in which vision is the primary sensory system used, a deficiency in the visual system may result in disadvantages in visually-mediated behaviors. How, then, does an animal circumvent such sensory disadvantages? One solution is sensory compensation, a mechanism in which a secondary sensory system compensates for a deficient primary sensory system.

Butterflies use a combination of visual and olfactory cues during nectar-foraging, and the quality of the adult visual system in holometabolous insects is dependent on the quantity of carotenoids in their larval diet. If larvae are reared on diets that vary in carotenoid quantity, then differences in visually-mediated behaviors such as nectar-foraging may arise. Such differences in nectar-foraging behavior may be a disadvantage for individuals that were reared on lower concentrations of dietary carotenoids. Using cabbage white butterflies, P. rapae, my research investigates the role of larval dietary carotenoids on adult sensory use during nectar-foraging. Specifically, I seek to test the sensory compensation hypothesis to determine whether P. rapae switches to olfactory-mediated behavior to compensate for a disadvantage in visually-mediated behavior.





Contact Info
Lisa Wang
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Biosciences West Rm. 512
1041 E. Lowell
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721
FAX: (520) 621-9190

Last modified: 11-Feb-2013
Webmaster: Dan Papaj
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Photo of Pieris rapae by D. Wang; photo of Battus philenor by D. Papaj.