Species range expansion constrains the ecological niches of resident butterflies

Audusseau, Hélène; Le Vaillant, Maryline; Janz, Niklas; Nylin, Sören; Karlsson, Bengt; Schmucki, Reto. 2017 Species range expansion constrains the ecological niches of resident butterflies. Journal of Biogeography, 44 (1). 28-38.

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Aim: Changes in community composition resulting from environmental changes modify biotic interactions and affect the distribution and density of local populations. Such changes are currently occurring in nettle-feeding butterflies in Sweden where Araschnia levana has recently expanded its range northward and is now likely to interact with resident species (Aglais urticae and Aglais io). Butterfly occurrence data collected over years and across regions enabled us to investigate how a recent range expansion of A. levana may have affected the environmental niche of resident species. Location: We focused on two regions of Sweden (Skåne and Norrström) where A. levana has and has not established and two time periods (2001–2006 and 2009–2012) during its establishment in Skåne. Methods: We performed two distinct analyses in each region using the PCA-env and the framework described in Broennimann et al. (2012). First, we described the main sources of variation in the environment. Second, in each time period and region, we characterized the realized niches of our focal species across topographic and land use gradients. Third, we quantified overlaps and differences in realized niches between and within species over time. Results: In Skåne, A. levana has stabilized its distribution over time, while the distribution of the native species has shifted. These shifts depicted a consistent pattern of avoiding overlap between the native species and the environmental space occupied by A. levana, and it was stronger for A. urticae than for A. io. In both regions, we also found evidence of niche partitioning between native species. Main conclusions: Interspecific interactions are likely to affect local species distributions. It appears that the ongoing establishment of A. levana has modified local biotic interactions and induced shifts in resident species distributions. Among the mechanisms that can explain such patterns of niche partitioning, parasitoid-driven apparent competition may play an important role in this community.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 0305-0270
Additional Keywords: biotic interactions, citizen science, community composition, environmental niche model, indirect competition, nettle-feeding butterflies, ordination technique, parasitoid, realized niche
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 28 Mar 2017 16:55 +0 (UTC)

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