Carnicer J., Stefanescu C., Vila R., Dincǎ V., Font X., Peñuelas J. (2013) A unified framework for diversity gradients: The adaptive trait continuum. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 22: 6-18.LinkDoi: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2012.00762.x
Aim Adaptive trait continua are axes of covariation observed in multivariate trait data for a given taxonomic group. These continua quantify and summarize life-history variation at the inter-specific level in multi-specific assemblages. Here we examine whether trait continua can provide a useful framework to link life-history variation with demographic and evolutionary processes in species richness gradients. Taking an altitudinal species richness gradient for Mediterranean butterflies as a study case, we examined a suite of traits (larval diet breadth, adult phenology, dispersal capacity and wing length) and species-specific habitat measures (temperature and aridity breadth). We tested whether traits and species-specific habitat measures tend to co-vary, whether they are phylogenetically conserved, and whether they are able to explain species distributions and spatial genetic variation in a large number of butterfly assemblages. Location Catalonia, Spain. Methods We formulated predictions associated with species richness gradients and adaptive trait continua. We applied principal components analyses (PCAs), structural equation modelling and phylogenetic generalized least squares models. Results We found that traits and species-specific habitat measures covaried along a main PCA axis, ranging from multivoltine trophic generalists with high dispersal capacity to univoltine (i.e. one generation per year), trophic specialist species with low dispersal capacity. This trait continuum was closely associated with the observed distributions along the altitudinal gradient and predicted inter-specific differences in patterns of spatial genetic variability (FST and genetic distances), population responses to the impacts of global change and local turnover dynamics. Main conclusions The adaptive trait continuum of Mediterranean butterflies provides an integrative and mechanistic framework to: (1) analyse geographical gradients in species richness, (2) explain inter-specific differences in population abundances, spatial distributions and demographic trends, (3) explain inter-specific differences in patterns of genetic variation (FST and genetic distances), and (4) study specialist-generalist life-history transitions frequently involved in butterfly diversification processes. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Stefanescu C., Páramo F., Åkesson S., Alarcón M., Ávila A., Brereton T., Carnicer J., Cassar L.F., Fox R., Heliölä J., Hill J.K., Hirneisen N., Kjellén N., Kühn E., Kuussaari M., Leskinen M., Liechti F., Musche M., Regan E.C., Reynolds D.R., Roy D.B., Ryrholm N., Schmaljohann H., Settele J., Thomas C.D., van Swaay C., Chapman J.W. (2013) Multi-generational long-distance migration of insects: Studying the painted lady butterfly in the Western Palaearctic. Ecography. 36: 474-486.LinkDoi: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2012.07738.x
Long-range, seasonal migration is a widespread phenomenon among insects, allowing them to track and exploit abundant but ephemeral resources over vast geographical areas. However, the basic patterns of how species shift across multiple locations and seasons are unknown in most cases, even though migrant species comprise an important component of the temperate-zone biota. The painted lady butterfly Vanessa cardui is such an example; a cosmopolitan continuously-brooded species which migrates each year between Africa and Europe, sometimes in enormous numbers. The migration of 2009 was one of the most impressive recorded, and thousands of observations were collected through citizen science programmes and systematic entomological surveys, such as high altitude insect-monitoring radar and ground-based butterfly monitoring schemes. Here we use V. cardui as a model species to better understand insect migration in the Western Palaearctic, and we capitalise on the complementary data sources available for this iconic butterfly. The migratory cycle in this species involves six generations, encompassing a latitudinal shift of thousands of kilometres (up to 60 degrees of latitude). The cycle comprises an annual poleward advance of the populations in spring followed by an equatorward return movement in autumn, with returning individuals potentially flying thousands of kilometres. We show that many long-distance migrants take advantage of favourable winds, moving downwind at high elevation (from some tens of metres from the ground to altitudes over 1000 m), pointing at strong similarities in the flight strategies used by V. cardui and other migrant Lepidoptera. Our results reveal the highly successful strategy that has evolved in these insects, and provide a useful framework for a better understanding of long-distance seasonal migration in the temperate regions worldwide. © 2012 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2012 Nordic Society Oikos.
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