Resource availability drives trait composition of butterfly assemblages
- 93 Downloads
How species respond to environmental change is a fundamental question in ecology and species traits can help to tackle this question. In this study, we analyze how the functional structure of species assemblages changes with selected environmental variables along an elevational gradient. In particular, we used species traits of local butterfly communities (body size, voltinism, overwintering stages, and host specificity) in a national nature reserve in China to assess the impacts of temperature, net primary productivity, and land use. Our results show that productivity, measured as NDVI, had a stronger influence on the functional community structure of butterflies than temperature. Within the butterfly assemblages, net primary productivity mainly affected body size and supported few but large species. Length of vegetation period demonstrated dominating effects on the functional structure of local butterfly assemblages. However, an observed increase in dietary generalists with longer vegetation periods contradicted expectations based on niche breadth hypothesis, that more stable conditions should favor specialists. Furthermore, the general positive impact of vegetation period on species abundances differed considerably among functional groups. Only the group containing species hibernating as egg decreased with the length of vegetation period. Our results suggest that trait associations are instructive to explain environment–herbivore relationships, that resource availability can predominantly influence the functional composition of herbivore assemblages, and that conservation priority should be given to specialist butterfly species overwintering as egg, especially in the face of global warming.
KeywordsAlpine insects China Environmental drivers Functional diversity GLMs
CZ thanks YZ and JS who provided supervision for CZ’s Ph.D. study. We acknowledge Foping National Nature Reserve for support and convenience for the field work. CZ appreciates the support from his parents carrying the burden of CZ’s university fees.
Author contribution statement
CZ, YZ, JS, OS, and MW conceived ideas. CZ collected and analyzed the data. CZ and WS identified butterflies. WS provided parts of trait records. The manuscript was written by CS and was commented by all authors.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human rights and animal participants
No experiments with animals were conducted for this study.
- Bartoń K (2016) MuMIn: Multi-Model Inference. R package version 1.15.6. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=MuMIn
- Bergmann C (1847) Ueber die Verhältnisse der wärmeökonomie der Thiere zu ihrer Grösse. Göttinger Studien 3:589–708Google Scholar
- Bozano GC (1999–2013) Guide to the Butterflies of the Palearctic Region, book series. Omnes Artes, MilanGoogle Scholar
- Brändle M, Stadler J, Brandl R (2000) Body size and host range in European Heteroptera. Ecography 23:139–147. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0587.2000.tb00269.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Chou I (2001) Monographia rhopalocerorum sinensium, 2nd edn. Henan Science and Technology Publishing House, ZhengzhouGoogle Scholar
- García-Barros E (2000) Body size, egg size, and their interspecific relationships with ecological and life history traits in butterflies (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea, Hesperioidea). Biol J Linn Soc 70:251–284. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8312.2000.tb00210.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gaston KJ, Reavey D (1989) Patterns in the life histories and feeding strategies of British macrolepidoptera. Biol J Lin Soc 37:367–381. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8312.1989.tb01912.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gutierrez D, Menendez R (1995) Distribution and abundance of butterflies in a mountain area in the northern Iberian peninsula. Ecography 18:209–216. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0587.1995.tb00123.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hamel S, Garel M, Festa-Bianchet M, Gaillard J-M, Côté SD (2009) Spring normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) predicts annual variation in timing of peak faecal crude protein in mountain ungulates. J Appl Ecol 46:582–589. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01643.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hennig C (2015) fpc: Flexible Procedures for Clustering. R package version 2.1-10. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=fpc
- Hunter MD, McNeil JN (1997) Host-plant quality influences diapause and voltinism in a polyphagous insect herbivore. Ecology 78:977–986. https://doi.org/10.1890/0012-9658(1997)078%5b0977:hpqida%5d2.0.co;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Inomata T (1990) Keys to the Japanese butterflies in natural color. Hokuryukan, JapanGoogle Scholar
- Jaenike J (1990) Host specialization in phytophagous insects. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 21:243–273. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.es.21.110190.001331 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kawazoe A, Wakabayashi M (1976) Coloured illustrations of the butterflies of Japan. Hoikusha Publishing Co. Ltd, OsakaGoogle Scholar
- Koiwaya S (2007) The zephyrus hairstreaks of the world. Mushi-sha, JapanGoogle Scholar
- Lang S-Y (2012) The Nymphalidae of China (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera). Tshikolovets, Czech RepGoogle Scholar
- Leather SR, Walters KFA, Bale JS (1995) The ecology of insect overwintering. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Liu S, Zhang J (2003) Biodiverisity research and conservation of foping natural reserve. Shaanxi Science and Technology Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
- Maechler M, Rousseeuw P, Struyf A, Hubert M, Hornik K (2017) cluster: Cluster Analysis Basics and Extensions. R package version 2.0.6Google Scholar
- Mattson WJ (1980) Herbivory in relation to plant nitrogen content. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 11:119–161. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.es.11.110180.001003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Mousseau TA (1997) Ectotherms follow the converse to bergmann’s rule. Evolution 51:630–632. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1558-5646.1997.tb02453.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Öckinger E et al (2010) Life-history traits predict species responses to habitat area and isolation: a cross-continental synthesis. Ecol Lett 13:969–979Google Scholar
- Pollard E, Yates T (1997) Monitoring butterflies for ecology and conservation. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- R Core Team (2017) R: a language and environment for statistical computing, R foundation for statistical computingGoogle Scholar
- Scoble MJ (1992) The lepidoptera. Form, function and diversity. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Shirozu T (1960) Butterflies of Formosa in Colour. Hoikusha Publishing Co. Ltd, TokyoGoogle Scholar
- Yuan F, Yuan X, Xue G (2015) Fauna sinica insecta lepidoptera hesperiidae. Editorial committee of fauna sinicaGoogle Scholar