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Variable colour patterns indicate multidimensional, intraspecific trait variation and ecological generalization in moths
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science. (Ctr Ecol & Evolut Microbial Model Syst EEMiS)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9598-7618
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science. (Ctr Ecol & Evolut Microbial Model Syst EEMiS)
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science. (Ctr Ecol & Evolut Microbial Model Syst EEMiS)
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science. (Ctr Ecol & Evolut Microbial Model Syst EEMiS)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6398-1617
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2020 (English)In: Ecography, ISSN 0906-7590, E-ISSN 1600-0587, Vol. 43, p. 1-11Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Animal colour patterns long have provided information about key processes that drive the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of biological diversity. Theory and empirical evidence indicate that variation in colour patterns and other traits among individuals generally improves the performance of populations and species, for example by reducing predation risk, increasing establishment success, improving resilience to environmental change, and decreasing risk of extinction. However, little is known about whether and how variation in colour pattern among species is associated with variation in other phenotypic dimensions. To address this issue, we analysed associations of colour pattern with morphological, behavioural and life-history traits on the basis of data for nearly 400 species of noctuid moths. We found that moths with more variable colour patterns had longer flight activity periods, more diverse habitats and a greater number of host plant species than species with less variable colour patterns. Variable coloration in adult noctuid moths therefore can be considered as indicative of broader niches and generalist diets. Colour pattern variability was not significantly associated with overwintering stage or body size (wing span), and it was independent of whether the colour pattern of the larvae was non-variable, variable or highly variable. Colour pattern variation during the larval stage tended to increase as the duration of the flight activity period increased, but was independent of the length of the larval period, diet breadth and habitat use. The realization that information on colour pattern variation in adult moths, and possibly other organisms, offers a proxy for niche breadth and dietary generalization can inform management and conservation biology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2020. Vol. 43, p. 1-11
Keywords [en]
biodiversity, ecology, evolution, generalization, macroecology, niche
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Natural Science, Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-92462DOI: 10.1111/ecog.04923ISI: 000513021700001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-92462DiVA, id: diva2:1410819
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2018-02846Available from: 2020-03-02 Created: 2020-03-02 Last updated: 2020-05-07

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Forsman, AndersPolic, DanielaSunde, JohannaBetzholtz, Per-EricFranzén, Markus

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