Geographical co-occurrence of butterfly species: the importance of niche filtering by host plant species
The relevance of interspecific resource competition in the context of community assembly by herbivorous insects is a well-known topic in ecology. Most previous studies focused on local species assemblies that shared host plants. Few studies evaluated species pairs within a single taxon when investigating the effects of host plant sharing at the regional scale. Herein, we explore the effect of plant sharing on the geographical co-occurrence patterns of 232 butterflies distributed across the Japanese archipelago; we use two spatial scales (10 × 10 and 1 × 1 km grids) to this end. We considered that we might encounter one of two predictable patterns in terms of the relationship between co-occurrence and host sharing among butterflies. On the one hand, host sharing might promote distributional exclusivity attributable to interspecific resource competition. On the other hand, sharing of host plants may promote co-occurrence attributable to filtering by resource niche. At both grid scales, we found significant negative correlations between host use similarity and distributional exclusivity. Our results support the hypothesis that the butterfly co-occurrence pattern across the Japanese archipelago is better explained by filtering via resource niche rather than interspecific resource competition.
KeywordsClimatic niche Dispersal ability Herbivorous insect Japanese archipelago Taxonomic relatedness
We thank K. Kadowaki for his comments and advice on the original version of our manuscript, M. U. Saito for giving us the detail information of collecting datasets of host plants, the Biodiversity Center of Japan for allowing access to butterfly data at the 1-km grid scale, and the associate editor and three reviewers for their comments, which improved our manuscript. We are particularly grateful to the entomologists and naturalists who accumulated the information on butterflies used in this study. This work was supported by a grant from the Grant-in-Aid Program for JSPS Fellows (Grant No. 15J00601).
Author contribution statement
RN and KH conceived and designed the study; KH and RN collected the data from the literature; TI conducted the analysis of ecological niche modeling; YS and RN performed the statistical analyses; and RN, KH, YS, and TI wrote the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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