Variety and Genetic Diversity

One of nature’s great wonders is the diversity of life on earth. Every conceivable habitat seems to have its own living things that can make a home there. But there is also diversity within a single species. This variety needs to be protected. Not only is this interesting and beautiful, but the existence of differences between individuals of the same species may also allow certain individuals to adapt to changes better than others, enabling the species to survive when conditions change.  Take a look at the following five photographs of the male Muslin moth, a moth that flies in Ireland in late spring and early summer. This year it has emerged earlier, no doubt the result of a warm, sunny April. The Irish form of the male is snowy white/cream. The male found in England, Wales and Scotland is grey-brown or sooty-grey.

All five were trapped in the same place last Friday (24th April). Each has a different number of spots/markings. Take a closer look at Green-veined White butterflies-these are highly variable too, on both the underside and upper-sides. Some authorities believe that there is a deeper significance in this variation, believing that the Green-veined White is in an active state of evolution. Others believe that the vast variety in this butterfly’s appearance across its vast range reflects its interaction with its habitats-in other words, the variety in wing colouration is a response to environmental factors, not genetic factors.

Butterflies and moths really are individuals, not products of mass production. Enjoy life’s variety!

Muslin Moth male. Photo J.Harding
Muslin Moth male. Photo J.Harding
Muslin moth male. Photo J.Harding
Muslin moth male. Photo J.Harding
Muslin moth male. Photo J.Harding

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