In the spirit of summer…fireflies!

There is an interesting NYTimes article about a researcher who studies about fireflies.

Different species of fireflies have different patterns of flashing, but only the males flash while flying! The females usually sit in the grass observing the males, often looking for a male of their own species to respond to. Often you can find several different species of fireflies in the same field. This researcher studies the flashing of the fireflies and what the different patterns might mean.

The article goes on to discuss evolution and traits that might be under selection, such as the aforementioned flashing patterns. Over evolutionary time, some traits may become more frequent in a population and eventually could become commonly expressed in the population. If one male is better at attracting females, then his traits will get passed down to more offspring than the next male. The frequency of his traits in the population increases, and you can imagine how after many many generations the frequency of alleles in the population might change in one direction or any other depending on the conditions of the environment.

The rest of the article is a profile on the researcher, if you are interested in reading the person’s story.

Hope everyone’s summer is awesome so far!

Image credit: Flickr user Coso Blues



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