Abstract

The pale grass blue butterfly, Zizeeria maha, has been used to evaluate biological impacts of the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011. Here, we examined the possibility that butterflies have adapted to be robust in the contaminated environment. Larvae (n = 2432) were obtained from adult butterflies (n = 20) collected from 7 localities with various contamination levels in May 2012, corresponding to the 7th generation after the accident. When the larvae were reared on non-contaminated host plant leaves from Okinawa, the normality rates of natural exposure without artificial irradiation (as an indication of robustness) were high not only in the least contaminated locality but also in the most contaminated localities. The normality rates were similarly obtained when the larvae were reared on non-contaminated leaves with external irradiation or on contaminated leaves from Fukushima to deliver internal irradiation. The normality rate of natural exposure and that of external or internal exposure were correlated, suggesting that radiation resistance (or susceptibility) likely reflects general state of health. The normality rate of external or internal exposure was divided by the relative normality rate of natural exposure, being defined as the resistance value. The resistance value was the highest in the populations of heavily contaminated localities and was inversely correlated with the distance from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. These results suggest that the butterfly population might have adapted to the contaminated environment within approximately 1 year after the accident. The present study may partly explain the decrease in mortality and abnormality rates later observed in the contaminated areas.

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