Patterns of an elevational gradient affecting moths across the South Korean mountains: effects of geometric constraints, plants, and climate
We investigated elevational richness patterns of three moth groups (Erebidae, Geometridae, and Noctuidae) along four elevational gradients located on one northern and three southern mountains in South Korea, as well as the effects of plants and climatic factors on the diversity patterns of moths. Moths were collected with an ultraviolet light trap at 32 sites from May through October, 2013. Plant species richness and mean temperatures for January and June were acquired. Observed and estimated moth species richness was calculated and the diversity patterns with null models were compared. Species richness along four elevational gradients peaked at mid-elevations, whereas deviations occurred at elevations below mid-peak in the southern mountains and elevations higher than mid-peak on the northern mountain. Species richness curves of three moth groups also peaked at mid-elevations throughout South Korea. However, the species richness curves for Erebidae were positively skewed, indicating that a preference for lowlands, whereas curves of the Geometridae were negatively skewed, indicating a preference for highlands. The mid-peak diversity pattern between plants and moths on the Korean mountains showed an elevational breadth that overlapped between 800 and 900 m. Multiple regression analysis revealed that plant species richness and January mean temperature significantly influenced moth species richness and abundance. The rapid increase in mean annual temperature in the Korean peninsula and the unimodal elevational gradients of moths across the country suggest that an uphill shift in peak optimum elevation and changes in the highest peak of the curve will occur in the future.