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Colour lightness of butterfly assemblages across North America and Europe
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Number of Authors: 72019 (English)In: Scientific Reports, ISSN 2045-2322, E-ISSN 2045-2322, Vol. 9, article id 1760Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Melanin-based dark colouration is beneficial for insects as it increases the absorption of solar energy and protects against pathogens. Thus, it is expected that insect colouration is darker in colder regions and in regions with high humidity, where it is assumed that pathogen pressure is highest. These relationships between colour lightness, insect distribution, and climate between taxa and subtaxa across continents have never been tested and compared. Here we analysed the colour lightness of nearly all butterfly species of North America and Europe using the average colour lightness of species occurring within 50 km x 50 km grid cells across both continents as the dependent variable and average insolation, temperature and humidity within grid cells as explanatory variables. We compared the direction, strength and shape of these relationships between butterfly families and continents. On both continents, butterfly assemblages in colder and more humid regions were generally darker coloured than assemblages in warmer and less humid regions. Although these relationships differed in detail between families, overall trends within families on both continents were similar. Our results add further support for the importance of insect colour lightness as a mechanistic adaptation to climate that influences biogeographical patterns of species distributions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 9, article id 1760
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Biological Sciences
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-166718DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-36761-xISI: 000458295900040PubMedID: 30741964OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-166718DiVA, id: diva2:1296972
Available from: 2019-03-18 Created: 2019-03-18 Last updated: 2019-03-18Bibliographically approved

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Kerr, JeremyWheat, Christopher W.Zeuss, Dirk
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