, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 187-206

An ecological classification of Central European macromoths: habitat associations and conservation status returned from life history attributes

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To be used as a predictive conservation tool, classification of animal habitats should rely on actual resource requirements of individual species. Shreeve et al. (J Insect Conserv 5:145–161, 2001) produced a resource-based habitat classification for British butterflies, obtaining habitat association groups, whose constituent species differed in their distribution extent, distribution change and vulnerability in Britain. To test the utility of this approach for a group with a less-known biology, we produced a resource-based classification of habitats of Central European macromoths. We worked with macrolepidopteran moth families, except for the megadiverse Geometridae and Noctuidae. We produced a matrix of 178 life history attributes describing resource use by 164 species, subjected the matrix to ordination analysis, and compared the resulting moths groupings with external ecological information. Five habitat association groups were distinguished: I—close canopy moths, II—open canopy moths, III—grasslands moths, IV—herb-feeding hawk moths, and V—lichen feeders. The classification sustained deleting attributes related to host plants taxonomy. Groups I–III sustained control for taxonomic positions of the moths, whereas IV and V did not. Members of the groups differed in the representation of externally obtained habitat associations, biogeography elements, threat status, and range size. Endangered species were over-represented in groups II and III and underrepresented in group I, in agreement with recent land cover changes across the continent. Species resources can be used to reconstruct their habitat needs, and it is possible to scale up from life histories through habitat use to range structures.