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From the same journal

Density-distribution relationships in British butterflies. I. The effect of mobility and spatial scale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

  • M J R Cowley
  • C D Thomas
  • D B Roy
  • R J Wilson
  • J L Leon-Cortes
  • D Gutierrez
  • C R Bulman
  • R M Quinn
  • D Moss
  • K J Gaston

Department/unit(s)

Publication details

JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
DatePublished - May 2001
Issue number3
Volume70
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)410-425
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

1. Positive relationships between the density and distribution of species in taxonomic assemblages are well documented, but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Two factors that are expected to be important in explaining variation in these relationships are the spatial scale of analysis and the relative mobility of the study species.

2. We examined density-distribution relationships in British butterflies at a variety of spatial scales. Distributions were proportions of grid squares occupied: 50 m grid within 0.25 km(2) areas (local), 500 m grid in 35 km(2) (regional), 10 km grid across England, Wales and Scotland (national), 153 000 km(2) grid squares across Europe (European), and also seven categories of international distribution (Global; 1 = European endemic to 7 = in 5 + continents). Densities were measured using transect counts at local, regional and national scales.

3. Different relationships between density and distribution occurred at different scales of analysis. When we controlled for the effects of mobility and /or phylogenetic association, a positive relationship between density and distribution was apparent at local, regional and national scales. Species' national densities in Britain were positively correlated with their European distribution sizes, but significantly negatively correlated with their global range sizes.

4. Butterfly mobility had a positive effect on distribution and a negative effect on density at all spatial scales. For a given total abundance, more mobile species had lower densities but wider distributions, i.e. they were less aggregated than more sedentary species.

5. The decreasing strength of the density-distribution correlation, and the eventual reversal of the pattern, with the increasing magnitude of difference between the scale at which density was measured relative to distribution, suggests that some element of niche may be important in determining densities and distributions. However, the measure of niche breadth analysed did not explain significant variation in density distribution, or in the density-distribution relationship.

    Research areas

  • abundance, Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, dispersal, phylogeny, range-size, rarity, RANGE SIZE RELATIONSHIPS, SATELLITE SPECIES HYPOTHESIS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, INDEPENDENT CONTRASTS, REGIONAL DISTRIBUTION, LOCAL ABUNDANCE, BREEDING BIRDS, LIFE-HISTORY, BODY-SIZE, RARITY

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