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Chris M.
Chris M., M.S.W. Social Work
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A butterfly collector is studying a species of butterfly that

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A butterfly collector is studying a species of butterfly that has expanded its range into a new area over the last thirty years. The butterflies in the new area feed on a species of flower that have a deeper throat than the flowers exploited by the butterfly species in its original range. The average length of the proboscis that is used to suck nectar from flowers is also greater in butterflies that inhabit the new area. The collector hypothesizes that those individual butterflies that moved into the area and exploited the new flower grew longer proboscises during their lifetimes in order to reach the nectar. The gene for the longer proboscis was then inherited by the offspring of these individuals until the entire population consisted of butterflies with longer proboscises than butterflies in the original population.

Using your knowledge of evolutionary theory:
• Discuss the validity of the researcher’s explanation for the increase in average proboscis length in butterflies inhabiting the new area; and
• Provide an alternative explanation that is consistent with accepted evolutionary theory for the change in proboscis length in butterflies inhabiting the new area.

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