Ecological Research

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 321–331 | Cite as

Patterns of an elevational gradient affecting moths across the South Korean mountains: effects of geometric constraints, plants, and climate

Biodiversity in Asia


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.


Climate change Distribution Mountain Species richness Unimodal 

Supplementary material

11284_2016_1341_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (79 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 79 kb)
11284_2016_1341_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (264 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 264 kb)


  1. An J-S, Choi S–W (2013) Forest moth assemblages as indicators of biodiversity and environmental quality in a temperate deciduous forest. Eur J Entomol 110:509–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson AS, Storlie CJ, Shoo LP, Pearson RG, Williams SE (2013) Current analogues of future climate indicate the likely response of a sensitive montane tropical avifauna to a warming world. PLoS One 8(7):e69393CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck J, Brehm G, Fiedler K (2011) Links between the environment, abundance and diversity of Andean moths. Biotropica 43:208–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bertrand R, Lenoir J, Piedallu C, Riofrío-Dillon G, de Ruffray P, Vidal C, Pierrat J-C, Gégout J-C (2011) Changes in plant community composition lag behind climate warming in lowland forests. Nature 479:517–520CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Brehm G, Sussenbach D, Fiedler K (2003) Unique elevational diversity patterns of geometrid moths in an Andean montane rainforest. Ecography 26:456–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Castagneyrol B, Jactel H, Vacher C, Brockerhoff EG, Koricheva J (2014) Effects of plant phylogenetic diversity on herbivory depend on herbivore specialization. J App Ecol 51:134–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Choi S-W (2000) Study on the ecological influences on the butterfly fauna of islands in Korea. J Environ Biol 18:237–246 (in Korean) Google Scholar
  8. Choi S-W (2015) Bottom-up impact of soils on the network of soil, plants, and moths (Lepidoptera) in a South Korean temperate forest. Can Entomol 147:405–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Choi S-W, An J-S (2011) An island network determines moth diversity on islands in Dadohaehaesang National Park, South Korea. Insect Conserv Divers 4:247–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Choi S-W, Chun J-H (2009) Combined effect of environmental factors on distribution of Geometridae (Lepidoptera) in South Korea. Eur J Entomol 106:69–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Choi S-W, An J-S, Yang H-S (2015) Effect of island geography on plant species on uninhabited islands in southeastern South Korea. J Ecol Environ 38:451–459Google Scholar
  12. Chung Y-S, Yoon M-B, Kim H-S (2004) On climate variations and changes observed in South Korea. Clim Change 66:151–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Colwell RK (2006) EstimateS: statistical estimation of species richness and shared species from samples. Ver. 8.0. User’s guide and application published at
  14. Colwell RK, Coddington JA (1994) Estimating terrestrial biodiversity through extrapolation. Phil Trans R Soc (Series B) 345:101–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Colwell RK, Lees DC (2000) The mid-domain effect: geometric constraints on the geography of species richness. Trends Ecol Evol 15:70–76CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Colwell RK, Rahbek C, Gotelli NJ (2005) The mid-domain effect: there’s a baby in the bathwater. Am Nat 166:E149–E154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Colwell RK, Brehm G, Cardelus CL, Gilman AC, Longiono JT (2008) Global warming, elevational range shifts and lowland biotic attrition in the wet tropics. Science 322:258–261CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Dinnage R, Cadotte MW, Haddad NM, Crutsinger GM, Tilman D (2012) Diversity of plant evolutionary lineages promotes arthropod diversity. Ecol Lett 15:1308–1317CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Fu C, Hua X, Li J, Chang Z, Pu Z, Chen J (2006) Elevational patterns of frog species richness and endemic richness in the Hengduan Mountains, china: geometric constraints, area and climatic effects. Ecography 29:919–927CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Futuyma DJ, Agrawal AA (2009) Macroevolution and the biological diversity of plants and herbivores. Proc Nat Acad Sci 106:18054–18061CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Graham CH, Parra JL, Rahbek C, McGuire JA (2009) Phylogenetic structure in tropical hummingbird communities. Proc Nat Acad Sci 106:19673–19678CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Grytnes JA (2003) Species-richness patterns of vascular plants along seven altitudinal transects in Norway. Ecography 26:291–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Guo Q, Kelt DA, Sun Z, Liu H, Hu L, Ren H, Wenm J (2013) Global variation in elevational diversity patterns. Sci Rep 3:3007PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Haslett JR (1997) Insect communities and the spatial complexity of mountain habitats. Glob Ecol Biogeog Lett 6:49–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hodkinson ID (2005) Terrestrial insects along elevation gradients: species and community responses to altitude. Biol Rev 80:489–513CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Holloway JD (1987) Macrolepidoptera diversity in the Indo-Australian tropics: geographic, biotopic and taxonomic variations. Biol J Linn Soc 30:325–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hortal J, Lobo JM, Jiménez-Valverde A (2012) Basic questions in biogeography and the (lack of) simplicity of species distributions: putting species distribution models in the right place. Nat Conserv 10:108–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kong WS (2007) Biogeography of Korean plants. Geobook, Seoul, pp 251–255 (in Korean)Google Scholar
  29. Korea Forest Research Institute (2003) Ecological aspects of Baekdu Mountains in Korea and delineation of their management and conservation area. Korea Forest Research Institute [report no. 198], Seoul (in Korean) Google Scholar
  30. Krömer T, Kessler M, Herzog SK (2006) Distribution and flowering ecology of bromeliads along two climatically contrasting elevational transects in the Bolivian Andes. Biotropica 38:183–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lee SJ, Yeo JD, Shin HC (2008) Insect biogeography in the south-western sea of Korea with comments on the insect fauna of Kwanmae Island. Entomol Res 38:165–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lee C-B, Chun J-H, Song H-K, Cho H-J (2012) Altitudinal patterns of plant species richness on the Baekdudaegan mountains, South Korea: mid-domain effect, area, climate and Rapoport’s rule. Ecol Res 28:67–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lenoir J, Gégout JC, Marquet PA, de Ruffray P, Brisse H (2008) A significant upward shift in plant species optimum elevation during the 20th century. Science 320:1768–1771CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Lomolino MV (2001) Elevational gradients of species-density: historical and prospective views. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 10:3–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Machac A, Janda M, Dunn RR, Sanders NJ (2011) Elevational gradients in phylogenetic structure of ant communities reveal the interplay of biotic and abiotic constraints on diversity. Ecography 34:364–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Magurran AE (2003) Measuring biological diversity. Blackwell, Malden, 256 ppGoogle Scholar
  37. Manly BFJ (1997) Randomization, bootstrap and Monte Carlo methods in biology, 2nd edn. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  38. McCain CM (2004) The mid-domain effect applied to elevational gradients: species richness of small mammals in Costa Rica. J Biogeogr 31:19–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McQuillan PB (1986) Trans-Tasman relationships in the highland moth (Lepidoptera) fauna. In: Barlow BA (ed) Flora and fauna of alpine Australasia ages and origins. CSIRO, Canberra, pp 265–276Google Scholar
  40. Merckx VSFT, Hendriks KP, Beentjes KK, Mennes CB, Becking LE, Peijeneburg KTCA, Afendy A, Arumugam N, de Boer H, Biun A, Buang MM, Chen P, Chung AYC, Dow R, Feijen FAA, Feijen H, Feijien-van Soest C, Geml J, Geurts R, Gravendeel B, Hovenkamp P, Imbun P, Ipor I, Janssens SB, Jocqué M, Kappes H, Khoo E, Koomen P, Lens F, Majapun RJ, Morgado LN, Neupane S, Nieser N, Pereira JT, Rahman H, Sabran S, Sawang A, Schwallier RM, Shim P, Smit H, Sol N, Spait M, Stech M, Stokvis F, Sugau JB, Suleiman M, Sumail S, Thomas DC, van Tol J, Tuh FYY, Yahya BE, Nais J, Repin R, Lakim M, Schilthuizen M (2015) Evolution of endemism on a young tropical mountain. Nature 524:347–350CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Paik KS, Yim YJ (1982) Studies on the distribution of vascular plants in the islands around the Korean peninsula. Korean J Ecol 5:143–153Google Scholar
  42. Paik WK, Park WG, Lee WT (1998) Flora and vegetation of resources plants in the Mt. Kariwang (Kangwon-do). Kor J Plant Res 11:217–243 (in Korean) Google Scholar
  43. Rahbek C (1995) The elevational gradient of species richness – a uniform pattern. Ecography 18:200–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rickart EA (2001) Elevational diversity gradients, biogeography and the structure of montane mammal communities in the intermountain region of North America. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 10:77–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Romdal TS, Grytnes J-A (2007) An indirect area effect on elevational species richness patterns. Ecography 30:440–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sanders NJ, Rahbek C (2012) The patterns and causes of elevational diversity gradients. Ecography 35:1–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schuldt A, Baruffol M, Bruelheide H, Chen S, Chi X, Wall M, Assmann T (2014) Woody plant phylogenetic diversity mediates bottom-up control of arthropod biomass in species-rich forest. Oecologia 176:171–182CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Siemann E, Tilman D, Haarstad J, Ritchie M (1998) Experimental tests of the dependence of arthropod diversity on plant diversity. Am Nat 152:738–750CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Sproull GJ, Quigley MF, Sher A, González E (2015) Long-term changes in composition, diversity and distribution patterns in four herbaceous plant communities along an elevational gradient. J Veg Sci 26:552–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. van Nieukerken EJ, Kaila L, Kitching IJ, Kristensen NP, Lees DJ, Minet J, Mitter J, Mutanen M, Regier JC, Simonsen TJ, Wahlberg N (2011) Order Lepidoptera Linnaeus, 1758. Zootaxa 3148:212–221Google Scholar
  51. Zapata FA, Gaston KJ, Chown SL (2005) The Mid-Domain effect revisited. Am Nat 166:E144–E148CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental EducationMokpo National UniversityMuanSouth Korea

Personalised recommendations