5th International Conference on the Biology of Butterflies
From July 2-7 2007 Valerio Sbordoni will host the5th International Conference on the Biology of Butterflies at Villa Mondragone, Frascati (Roma, Italy). As part of the Conference and jointly with Dick Vane-Wright and Karen Oberhauser Michael Boppré is preparing A symposium in honour of Lincoln Pierson Brower (to celebrate his 75th anniversary, and mark more than 50 years research on milkweed butterflies).
The symposium is to be organised around the three major themes that have informed and inspired Lincoln Brower’s work: chemical ecology, migration and conservation. The organisers will invite three keynote speakers to review current knowledge in each of these areas, with special reference to Brower’s achievements. In addition, contributed papers that celebrate his five decades of research on the biology of butterflies will be sought.
Through Brower’s work, milkweed butterflies have become a model for the study of a wide range of evolutionary phenomena, and the papers will address, inter alia, mimicry, molecular systematics, biogeography, ecology, behaviour and conservation. The relationship between sequestration of hostplant secondary compounds and predation has emerged as a classic case for the study of mimicry and insect behaviour. However, questions concerning the generality of Brower’s findings continue to stimulate new research on butterfly biology. Since the discovery of the massed Mexican over-wintering sites, used annually by many millions of North American Monarchs, Brower has stimulated a huge amount of work on the ecology of these butterflies, with the result that the Monarch is now the best documented and most celebrated example of insect migration known. This in turn has led to the realisation of the fragility of the entire phenomenon, impacted by the use of high-tech herbicides and GM crops in the USA, the activities of gun-toting illegal loggers in Mexico, and the potential effects of global warming. As a result, Brower has taken up the cause of conservation with much passion, as he tries to lobby both the US and Mexican governments and other organisations to intercede on behalf of the insects. In doing so he has become instrumental in reforestation and organic farming projects in Mexico, and a voice of caution regarding the impacts of agribusiness on all our lives.