Sunday, January 20, 2013

Biodiversity is Beautiful

What is this?

photo: Kjell Sandved

Yes, it's the A-B-C's and 1 - 9's, but did you know these are all patterns on butterfly wings?

a pair of monarchs
photo: Monarch-Butterfly
Butterflies were my introduction to biological diversity, better known as biodiversity.

Growing up in suburban New Jersey, USA, I knew a few butterflies (the monarch stands out) but didn't really think about them much.

Later on, I learned about biodiversity in an academic setting, but it wasn't until I started counting the insane number of butterflies I saw even casually in the forests and gardens of Central and South America, that it clicked. There are a ton of species out there.

They each need to earn a living, and they do it in myriad ways. This variability is testimony to the many different strategies species use to attain fitness (success in surviving and reproducing).

It's January 20th, so I thought we could celebrate this diversity with 20 photos of butterflies and some of their insect cousins.

With some 900,000 species, insects are nothing if not diverse. Can you picture over 100 million animals in an acre (250 million in a hectare)? Insects are a success story in both numbers of species and numbers of individuals, so the next post will delve into the diversity of life a bit more and its relationship with biological fitness.

Photo credits (mine are uncredited):


  1. Specific trees, (organs in the limbic system, in the mammalian part of your brain), are activated for fear, anger, guilt, or love. Trillion Trees Initiative