Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level



Biological Sciences


Westerman, Erica

Committee Member/Reader

Mortensen, Jennifer

Committee Member/Second Reader

Dowling, Ashley

Committee Member/Third Reader

Sakon, Josh


Phenotypic traits are shaped by the interaction of an organism's genes and the environment they experience. The plasticity of phenotypic traits is particularly responsive to developmental environments which can shape adult traits, such as expressed behaviors like mate choice and the ability to learn preferences. The Lepidoptera species Bicyclus anynana has been shown to learn mate preference based on social interaction following emergence from the chrysalis, however if and how the social complexity of the larval experience affects this ability to learn is less understood. Here I test the effects of isolation during the larval period on a female’s ability to learn mate preference. I created 2 larval rearing environments, isolated and gregarious, used a split family design, and ran behavioral assays to determine the relative strength of preference learning in individuals reared in isolated and gregarious conditions. Using a split family design allowed me to control for between-family genetic effects. I found that isolation did not inhibit a female’s ability to learn mate preference and gregariousness had no effect on relative strength of learned mate preference. These results suggest that social complexity experienced during development does play a role in the plasticity of mate choice learning in female Bicyclus anynana.


Phenotypic traits, mating, female bicyclus anynana, social interactions