, Volume 186, Issue 4, pp 995–1005 | Cite as

Geographical co-occurrence of butterfly species: the importance of niche filtering by host plant species

  • Ryosuke NakadaiEmail author
  • Koya Hashimoto
  • Takaya Iwasaki
  • Yasuhiro Sato
Plant-microbe-animal interactions - original research


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.


Climatic 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.

Supplementary material

442_2018_4062_MOESM1_ESM.docx (84 kb)
Figure S1 Histogram of the number of observed grids for each butterfly species at both 10-km and 1-km grid scales: (a) all targeted butterfly species at the 10-km grid scale, (b) butterfly species at the 10-km grid scale, with an observed grid number less than 50, (c) all targeted butterfly species at the 1-km grid scale, and (d) butterfly species at the 1-km grid scale, with an observed grid number less than 50.
442_2018_4062_MOESM2_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary File 1 Details of the methods used for ecological niche modeling.
442_2018_4062_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (148 kb)
Table S1–S6 Table S1. Japanese butterfly species analyzed in this study. Table S2. Summary of the MaxEnt data at the 10-km grid scale. Table S3. Summary of the MaxEnt data at the 1-km grid scale. Table S4. Correlations among host use similarity (Host), taxonomic relatedness (Taxon), climate niche similarity (Climate), and total dispersal ability (Dispersal), at two spatial scales. (a) Summary of Mantel test data on pairwise correlations between the explanatory matrices. (b) Summary of partial Mantel test data on standardized Cstd scores between pairs of butterfly species. The “Taxon-Dispersal” data (b) were obtained using the datasets at either grid mesh scale. Table S5. Results using the datasets that excluded rare species. This table corresponds to Table 2. Table S6. Results using the datasets that excluded rare species. This table corresponds to Table S4. (XLSX 149 kb)


  1. Abramoff MD, Magalhães PJ, Ram SJ (2004) Image processing with ImageJ. Biophot inter 11:36–42Google Scholar
  2. Agrawal AA (1999) Induced responses to herbivory in wild radish: effects on several herbivores and plant fitness. Ecology 80:1713–1723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Agrawal AA (2000) Specificity of induced resistance in wild radish: causes and consequences for two specialist and two generalist caterpillars. Oikos 89:493–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barraclough TG, Vogler AP, Harvey PH (1998) Revealing the factors that promote speciation. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 353:241–249CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Benson WW (1978) Resource partitioning in passion vine butterflies. Evolution 32:493–518CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Blakley NR, Dingle H (1978) Competition: butterflies eliminate milkweed bugs from a Caribbean Island. Oecologia 37:133–136CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Brower LP (1962) Evidence for interspecific competition in natural populations of the Monarch and Queen butterflies, Danaus plexippus and D. gilippus berenice in south central Florida. Ecology 43:549–552CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown DG, Weis AE (1995) Direct and indirect effects of prior grazing of goldenrod upon the performance of a leaf beetle. Ecology 76:426–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bultman TL, Faeth SH (1985) Patterns of intra- and inter- specific association in leaf-mining insects on three oak host species. Ecol Entomol 10:121–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cardillo M, Warren DL (2016) Analysing patterns of spatial and niche overlap among species at multiple resolutions. Global Ecol Biogeogr 25:951–963CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cavender-Bares J, Kozak KH, Fine PVA, Kembel SW (2009) The merging of community ecology and phylogenetic biology. Ecol Lett 12:693–715CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Chai P, Srygley RB (1990) Predation and the flight, morphology, and temperature of neotropical rainforest butterflies. Am Nat 135:748–765CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clausnitzer V, Kalkman VJ, Ram M, Collen B, Baillie JEM, Bedjanič M, Darwell WRT, Dijkstra K-DB, Dow R, Hawking J, Karube H, Malikova E, Paulson D, Schütte K, Suhling F, Villanueva RJ, Ellenrieder N, Wilson K (2009) Odonata enter the biodiversity crisis debate: the first global assessment of an insect group. Biol Conserv 142:1864–1869CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Connor EF, Collins MD, Simberloff D (2013) The checkered history of checkerboard distributions. Ecology 94:2403–2414CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Damman H (1989) Facilitative interactions between two lepidopteran herbivores of Asimina. Oecologia 78:214–219CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Dempster JP (1997) The role of larval food resources and adult movement in the population dynamics of the orange-tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines). Oecologia 111:549–556CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Diamond J (1975) Assembly of species communities. In: Cody ML, Diamond JM (eds) Ecology and evolution of communities. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp 342–444Google Scholar
  18. Doorenweerd C, van Nieukerken EJ, Menken SBJ (2015) A global phylogeny of leafmining Ectoedemia moths (Lepidoptera: Nepticulidae): exploring host plant family shifts and allopatry as drivers of speciation. PLoS One 10:e0119586CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Ehrlich PR, Raven PH (1964) Butterflies and plants: a study in coevolution. Evolution 18:586–608CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Faeth SH (1986) Indirect interactions between temporally separated herbivores mediated by the host plant. Ecology 67:479–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fei M, Gols R, Zhu F, Harvey JA (2016) Plant quantity affects development and survival of a gregarious insect herbivore and its endoparasitoid wasp. PLoS One 11:e0149539CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Fordyce JA (2010) Host shifts and evolutionary radiations of butterflies. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 277:3735–3743CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Franklin J (2010) Mapping species distributions: spatial inference and prediction. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Friberg M, Bergman M, Kullberg J, Wahlberg N (2008) Niche separation in space and time between two sympatric sister species—a case of ecological pleiotropy. Evol Ecol 22:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Friberg M, Leimar O, Wiklund C (2013) Heterospecific courtship, minority effects and niche separation between cryptic butterfly species. J Evol Biol 26:971–979CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Gerardo C, Brown JH (1995) Global patterns of mammalian diversity, endemism, and endangerment. Conserv Biol 9:559–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Germain RM, Weir JT, Gilbert B (2016) Species coexistence: macroevolutionary relationships and the contingency of historical interactions. Proc R Soc B 283:20160047CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Goslee SC, Urban DL (2007) The ecodist package for dissimilarity-based analysis of ecological data. J Stat Softw 22:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gotelli NJ, McCabe DJ (2002) Species co-occurrence: a meta-analysis of J. M. Diamond’s assembly rules model. Ecology 83:2091–2096CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hairston NG, Smith FE, Slobodkin LB (1960) Community structure, population control, and competition. Am Nat 94:421–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Harrison S, Karban R (1986) Effects of an early-season folivorous moth on the success of a later-season species, mediated by a change in the quality of the shared host, Lupinus arboreus Sims. Oecologia 69:354–359CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Hashimoto K, Ohgushi T (2017) How do two specialist butterflies determine growth and biomass of a shared host plant? Popul Ecol 59:17–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hawkins BA, Rueda M, Rangel TF, Field R, Diniz-Filho JAF (2014) Community phylogenetics at the biogeographical scale: cold tolerance, niche conservatism and the structure of North American forests. J Biogeogr 41:23–38CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Honda K (2005) Larval feeding habit and host selection. In: Honda K, Kato Y (eds) Biology of butterflies. University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo, pp 255–301 (in Japanese) Google Scholar
  35. Inomata T (1990) Keys to the Japanese butterflies in natural color. Hokuryukan, Tokyo (In Japanese)Google Scholar
  36. Inouye BD, Johnson DM (2005) Larval aggregation affects feeding rate in Chlosyne poecile (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Florida Entomol 88:247–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jones MJ, Lace LA, Harrison EC, Stevens-Wood B (1998) Territorial behavior in the speckled wood butteries Pararge xiphia and P. aegeria of Madeira: a mechanism for interspecific competition. Ecography 21:297–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jonsson BG (2001) A null model for randomization tests of nestedness in species assemblages. Oecologia 127:309–313CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Jousselin E, Cruaud A, Genson G, Chevenet F, Foottit RG, Cœur d’acier A (2013) Is ecological speciation a major trend in aphids? Insights from a molecular phylogeny of the conifer-feeding genus Cinara. Front Zool 10:56CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  40. Kaplan I, Denno RF (2007) Interspecific interactions in phytophagous insects revisited: a quantitative assessment of competition theory. Ecol Lett 10:977–994CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Kneitel JM, Chase JM (2004) Trade-offs in community ecology: linking spatial scales and species coexistence. Ecol Lett 7:69–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Koleff P, Gaston KJ, Lennon JJ (2003) Measuring beta diversity for presence-absence data. J Ani Ecol 72:367–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kozak KH, Graham CH, Wiens JJ (2008) Integrating GIS-based environmental data into evolutionary biology. Trends Ecol Evol 23:141–148CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Kubota Y, Hirao T, Fujii S, Shiono T, Kusumoto B (2014) Beta diversity of woody plants in the Japanese archipelago: the roles of geohistorical and ecological processes. J Biogeogr 41:1267–1276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kubota Y, Kusumoto B, Shiono T, Tanaka T (2017) Phylogenetic properties of Tertiary relict flora in the East Asian continental islands: imprint of climatic niche conservatism and in situ diversification. Ecography 40:436–447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lawton JH, Strong DR (1981) Community patterns and competition in folivorous insects. Am Nat 118:317–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lopez-Vaamonde C, Godfray HCJ, Cook JM (2003) Evolutionary dynamics of host-plant use in a genus of leaf- mining moths. Evolution 57:1804–1821CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Loreau M (2000) Are communities saturated? On the relationship between α, β and γ diversity. Ecol Lett 3:73–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mayfield MM, Levine JM (2010) Opposing effects of competitive exclusion on the phylogenetic structure of communities. Ecol Lett 13:1085–1093CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Millan C, Borges SS, Rodrigues D, Moreira GRP (2013) Behavioral and life-history evidence for interspecific competition in the larvae of two heliconian butterflies. Naturwissenschaften 100:901–911CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Mittermeier RA, Turner WR, Larsen FW, Brooks TM, Gascon C (2011) Global biodiversity conservation: the critical role of hotspots. In: Zachos FE, Habel JC (eds) Biodiversity hotspots. Springer, Berlin, pp 3–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nakadai R (2017) Species diversity of herbivorous insects: a brief review to bridge the gap between theories focusing on the generation and maintenance of diversity. Ecol Res 32:811–819CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Nakadai R, Kawakita A (2016) Phylogenetic test of speciation by host shift in leaf cone moths (Caloptilia) feeding on maples (Acer). Ecol Evol 6:4958–4970CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  54. Nakadai R, Kawakita A (2017) Patterns of temporal and enemy niche use by a community of leaf cone moths (Caloptilia) coexisting on maples (Acer) as revealed by metabarcoding. Mol Ecol 26:3309–3319CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Nekola JC, White PS (1999) The distance decay of similarity in biogeography and ecology. J Biogeogr 26:867–878CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Noriyuki S (2015) Host selection in insects: reproductive interference shapes behavior of ovipositing females. Popul Ecol 57:293–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Nosil P (2012) Ecological speciation. Oxford University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Novotny V, Miller SE, Baje L, Balagawi S, Basset Y, Cizek L, Craft KJ, Dem F, Drew RAI, Hulcr J, Leps J, Lewis OT, Pokon R, Stewart AJA, Samuelson GA, Weiblen GD (2010) Guild-specific patterns of species richness and host specialization in plant-herbivore food webs from a tropical forest. J Anim Ecol 79:1193–1203CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Nyman T, Vikberg V, Smith DR, Boevé J-L (2010) How common is ecological speciation in plant-feeding insects? A “Higher” Nematinae perspective. BMC Evol Biol 10:266CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  60. Oksanen J, Blanchet FG, Kindt R, Legendre P, Minchin PR, O’Hara RB (2015) Vegan: community ecology package. Accessed 25 May 2015
  61. Peterson AT, Soberon J, Pearson RG, Anderson RP, Martinez-Meyer E, Nakamura M, Araújo MB (2011) Ecological niches and geographic distributions. Monographs in population biology. Princeton University Press. Princeton, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  62. Phillips SJ, Dudík M (2008) Modeling of species distributions with Maxent: new extensions and a comprehensive evaluation. Ecography 31:161–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Phillips SJ, Anderson RP, Schapire RE (2006) Maximum entropy modeling of species geographic distributions. Ecol Model 190:231–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Polis GA (1999) Why are parts of the world green? Multiple factors control productivity and the distribution of biomass. Oikos 86:3–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Prior KM, Hellmann JJ (2010) Impact of an invasive oak gall wasp on a native butterfly: a test of plant-mediated competition. Ecology 91:3284–3293CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. R Core Team (2015) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Accessed 25 May 2015
  67. Rabosky DL (2009) Ecological limits and diversification rate: alternative paradigms to explain the variation in species richness among clades and regions. Ecol Lett 12:735–743CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Rathcke BJ (1976) Competition and co-existence within a guild of herbivorous insects. Ecology 57:76–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Redman A, Scriber J (2000) Competition between the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, and the northern tiger swallowtail, Papilio canadensis: interactions mediated by host plant chemistry, pathogens, and parasitoids. Oecologia 125:218–228CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Ross HH (1957) Principles of natural coexistence indicated by leafhopper populations. Evolution 11:113–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Saito MU, Jinbo U, Yago M, Kurashima O, Ito M (2016) Larval host records of butterflies in Japan. Ecol Res 31:491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Schoener TW (1968) The anolis lizards of bimini: Resource partitioning in a complex fauna. Ecology 49:704–726CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Shirôzu T (2006) The butterflies of Japan in color. Gakken Holdings, Tokyo (In Japanese)Google Scholar
  74. Shuker DM, Burdfield-Steel ER (2017) Reproductive interference in insects. Ecol Entomol 42:65–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Stone L, Roberts A (1990) The checkerboard score and species distributions. Oecologia 85:74–79CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  76. Strong DR (1982) Harmonious coexistence of Hispine beetles on Heliconia In experimental and natural communities. Ecology 63:1039–1049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Strong DR, Lawton JH, Southwood SR (1984) Insects on plants. Community patterns and mechanisms. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  78. Takami Y, Osawa T (2016) Ecological differentiation and habitat unsuitability maintaining a ground beetle hybrid zone. Ecol Evol 6:113–124CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  79. Thompson JN (2013) Relentless evolution. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Tojo K, Sekiné K, Takenaka M, Isaka Y, Komaki S, Suzuki T, Schoville SD (2017) Species diversity of insects in Japan: their origins and diversification processes. Entomol Sci 20:357–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Ueckert DN, Hansen RM (1971) Dietary overlap of grasshoppers on sandhill rangeland in northeastern Colorado. Oecologia 8:276–295CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  82. Van Zandt PA, Agrawal AA (2004) Specificity of induced plant responses to specialist herbivores of the common milkweed Asclepias syriaca. Oikos 104:401–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Viswanathan DV, Narwani AJT, Thaler JS (2005) Specificity in induced plant responses shapes patterns of herbivore occurrence on Solanum dulcamara. Ecology 86:886–896CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Waloff N (1979) Partitioning of resources by grassland leafhoppers (Auchenorrhyncha, Homoptera). Ecol Entomol 4:379–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Warren DL (2012) In defense of ‘niche modeling’. Trends Ecol Evol 27:497–500CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  86. Warren DL, Glor RE, Turelli M (2008) Environmental niche equivalency versus conservatism: quantitative approaches to niche evolution. Evolution 62:2868–2883CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  87. Warren DL, Cardillo M, Rosauer DF, Bolnick DI (2014) Mistaking geography for biology: inferring processes from species distributions. Trends Ecol Evol 29:572–580CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  88. Webb CO, Ackerly DD, McPeek MA, Donoghue MJ (2002) Phylogenies and community ecology. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 33:475–505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Yoder JB, Clancey E, Des Roches S, Eastman JM, Gentry L, Godsoe W, Hagey TJ, Jochimsen D, Oswarld BP, Robertson J, Sarver BAJ, Schenk JJ, Spear SF, Harmon LJ (2010) Ecological opportunity and the origin of adaptive radiations. J Evol Biol 23:1581–1596CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto UniversityOtsuJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of ScienceUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan
  3. 3.Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of ScienceKanagawa UniversityHiratsukaJapan
  4. 4.Department of Plant Life Sciences, Faculty of AgricultureRyukoku UniversityOtsuJapan

Personalised recommendations