A mobility index for Canadian butterfly species based on naturalists’ knowledge

Abstract

Mobility is a key component of species’ biology. Research on mobility is inherently difficult, however, resulting in studies of narrow taxonomic, spatial, and temporal scope with results that are difficult to compare between studies. We had three goals for our research: (1) construct a data set of mobility estimates for the butterfly species of Canada based on naturalists’ knowledge; (2) develop methods to evaluate aspects of accuracy and precision for knowledge-based ecological research such as ours; and (3) using our data set, test mobility-related hypotheses of species-level relationships. We distributed a questionnaire to amateur and professional lepidopterists in Canada and northern USA, asking them to estimate the mobility of Canadian butterfly species based on their field experience. Based on responses from 51 lepidopterists with approximately 800 years of combined field experience, we received mobility estimates for almost all (291 out of 307) of Canada’s butterfly taxa. Mobility estimates were consistent among respondents and were not affected by respondent expertise. Mobility carries a strong phylogenetic signal and is positively related to wingspan (albeit weakly), range size, and host plant breadth, and negatively related to conservation risk. Reliance upon naturalists’ experience was essential to the feasibility of our project, and provides a promising method for many types of ecological research.

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Abbreviations

ACDC:

Accelerating-Decelerating

AIC:

Akaike’s Information Criterion

FDR:

False discovery rate

GLS:

Generalized least squares

IC:

Independent contrast

LEK:

Local ecological knowledge

OLS:

Ordinary least squares

OU:

Ornstein-Uhlenbeck

PCA:

Principal Components Analysis

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Acknowledgments

J. M. F. was funded by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, and J. T. K. by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and an NSERC Discovery Grant. We thank Maxim Larrivée for helpful discussions and assisting in questionnaire distribution, Meghan Snowdon for scanning range maps, Ted Garland, Catherine Hierlihy, and Peter Midford for software advice, Matt Cowley, Atte Komonen, and Shannon McCauley for helpful suggestions on questionnaire design, Katie Gibbs for the Excel randomization macro, and Jan Beck, Lauren Fitzsimmons, Chris Hassall, Maxim Larrivée, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on the manuscript. Most importantly, we thank the following generous lepidopterists who voluntarily took the time to provide us with mobility estimates: David and Ken Allison, Charley Bird, Yvette Bree, Jim and Sue Brown, Annie Brueck, Mike Burrell, Joel Dunnette, Jaimee Dupont, Nate Erwin, Erica Fleishman, Pat Fojut, Kent Fothergill, Paula Goldberg, Jessica Grealey, Donald Gudehus, Crispin Guppy, Cliff Hagen, Peter Hall, James Holdsworth, Donna Horton, James Kamstra, Candice Kerling, Norbert Kondla, André Langlois, Denis Larrivée, Jacques Larrivée, Maxim Larrivée, Diane Lepage, Christina Lewis, David MacLean, Tom Mason, Stephen Matter, Gerald McCormick, Chris Michener, James Miskelly, Charlotte Moore, Michael Olsen, Jim Phillips, Amy Pocewicz, Kirsten Prior, Jens Roland, Eleanor Ryan, Jeff Skevington, Pat Snyder, Felix Sperling, Dennis St. John, Peter Taylor, Lindsay Webb, Reginald Webster, Richard Westwood, Ann and Doug White, and Jerome Wiedmann.

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Correspondence to Jay M. Fitzsimmons.

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File S1

. Questionnaire file sent to lepidopterists (XLS 133 kb)

File S2

. DNA-based and all-species phylogenetic trees’ source code (NEX 27 kb)

File S3

. Canadian butterfly species mobility index. Includes mean, standard deviation, and number of respondents for mobility estimates for 291 taxa along with wingspan, range size, larval diet breadth, and conservation values for these taxa (XLS 115 kb)

Fig. S1

. All-species phylogenetic tree. Colours of species’ names represent their recognized families: Hesperiidae (green), Lycaenidae (red), Nymphalidae (blue), Pieridae (orange), Papilionidae (purple), and Riodinidae (aqua) with moth outgroup taxa at the top in pink (PDF 14 kb)

Fig. S2

. Decision tree used to construct the all-species phylogenetic tree. The only exception we made to this tree was ignoring the presence of Speyeria mormonia and proceeding as though S. idalia was the only species of its genus in the tree when adding congeneric species, because S. mormonia resolved a an improbable position in our tree. Figure created using Diagram Designer version 1.22 (GIF 533 kb)

Fig. S3

. Number of species receiving various numbers of mobility estimates (PPT 140 kb)

Fig. S4.

Relationship between the standard deviation and mean mobility estimates. Greater standard deviation values for species with intermediate mobility scores indicate greater variation among respondents’ estimates for those species. Fitted curve: standard deviation = 1.5 + (0.04 × mean) − [0.04 × (mean − 5.07)2]; adjusted R2 = 0.07, df = 2/273, P < 0.0001. (PPT 144 kb)

Tables S1and S2

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Burke, R.J., Fitzsimmons, J.M. & Kerr, J.T. A mobility index for Canadian butterfly species based on naturalists’ knowledge. Biodivers Conserv 20, 2273–2295 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-011-0088-y

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Keywords

  • Dispersal
  • Expert opinion
  • Lepidoptera
  • Life-history strategy
  • Local ecological knowledge
  • Movement ecology
  • Naturalists
  • Phylogenetic signal
  • Questionnaire
  • Range size