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Phylogenetic analysis of the latitude-niche breadth hypothesis in the butterfly subfamily Nymphalinae
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6379-7905
2010 (English)In: Ecological Entomology, ISSN 0307-6946, E-ISSN 1365-2311, Vol. 35, no 6, 768-774 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

One possible explanation for the latitudinal gradient in species richness often demonstrated is a related gradient in niche breadth, which may allow for denser species packing in the more stable environments at low latitudes.

The evidence for such a gradient is, however, ambiguous, and the results have varied as much as the methods. Several studies have considered the non-independence of species, but few have performed explicit phylogenetic analyses.

In the present study, we tested for a correlation between diet breadth and latitude of distribution in Nymphalinae butterflies using generalised estimating equations (GEE) and accounting for phylogenetic independence.

Using a simple model with only latitude of distribution as a predictor variable revealed a significant positive relationship with diet breadth. Previous studies, however, have shown that diet breadth is also correlated with butterfly range size, and in turn, that range size may be correlated with latitude of distribution. Including geographical range size in the model also turned out to have a profound effect on the results – to the extent that the relationship between latitude of distribution and diet breadth was effectively reversed.

We conclude that, at least for this group of butterflies, there is no evidence for a positive correlation between latitude of species distribution and diet breadth when controlling for range size, and that the effect may actually even be reversed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 35, no 6, 768-774 p.
Keyword [en]
Diversification, generalisation, host range, latitude, polyphagy, specialisation.
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-45901DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2010.01238.xISI: 000284170200013OAI: diva2:371747
Available from: 2010-11-22 Created: 2010-11-15 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The plasticity and geography of host use and the diversification of butterflies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The plasticity and geography of host use and the diversification of butterflies
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Our world is changing rapidly and factors like urbanisation, changed agricultural practices and climate change are causing losses in butterfly diversity. It is therefore of importance to understand the source of their diversity. Given the remarkable diversity of herbivorous insects compared to their non-herbivorous sister groups, changes in host use have been implicated as a promoter of speciation. This thesis looks at geographical aspects of host range evolution and the plasticity of host use. We show that butterflies in the subfamily Nymphalinae that feed on a wide range of host plants have larger geographic ranges than species with narrower host ranges. Although tropical butterflies appear to be more specialised than temperate species, this effect is lost when controlling for the differences in geographic range. Geographic variation in host plant use within Polygonia faunus, related to morphologically distinct subspecies, did not show any genetic differentiation. This suggests that the observed variation in host plant use is a plastic response to environmental differences. Reconstructing host use for the Polygonia-Nymphalis and Vanessa group shows that plasticity is also important for understanding host use at the level of butterfly genera. Using unequal transition costs and including larval feeding ability revealed that frequent colonisations of the same plant genus can often be explained by non-independent processes, such as multiple partial losses of host use, recolonisation of ancestral hosts, and parallel colonisations following a preadaptation for host use. These processes are further reflected in the conservative use of host plant orders within the butterfly family Nymphalidae. Few taxa feed on more than one host plant order, and these expansions occur at the very tips of the tree, which we argue is evidence of the transient nature of generalist host use. These insights improve our understanding of how host range evolution may promote diversification.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2012. 36 p.
Nymphalidae, host range, phylogeny, distribution, latitude, phylogeography, local specialisation, colonisation, host shift, polyphagy, speciation, diversification
National Category
Research subject
Animal Ecology
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-69573 (URN)978-91-7447-440-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-03-02, Magnélisalen, Kemiska övningslaboratoriet, Svante Arrhenius väg 16 B, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
At the time of the doctoral defence,the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Submitted; Papers 4 and 5: ManuscriptsAvailable from: 2012-02-08 Created: 2012-01-13 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved

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