The determinants of alpine butterfly richness and composition vary according to the ecological traits of species

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Vincent SonnayAntoine Guisan

Abstract

Predicting spatial patterns of species diversity and composition using suitable environmental predictors is an essential element in conservation planning. Although species have distinct relationships to environmental conditions, some similarities may exist among species that share functional characteristics or traits. We investigated the relationship between species richness, composition and abiotic and biotic environment in different groups of butterflies that share ecological characteristics. We inventoried butterfly species richness in 192 sites and classified all inventoried species in three traits categories: the caterpillars diet breadth, the habitat requirements and the dispersal ability of the adults. We studied how environment, including influence butterfly species richness and composition within each trait category. Across four modelling approaches, the relative influence of environmental variables on butterfly species richness differed for specialists and generalists. Climatic variables were the main determinants of butterfly species richness and composition for generalists, whereas habitat diversity, and plant richness were also important for specialists. Prediction accuracy was lower for specialists than for genera...Continue Reading

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