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Carnicer J.,Global Ecology Unit CREAF CEAB CSIC | Carnicer J.,Community and Conservation Ecology Group | Stefanescu C.,Global Ecology Unit CREAF CEAB CSIC | Vila R.,Institute of Evolutionary Biology CSIC UPF | And 3 more authors.
Global Ecology and Biogeography

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. Source

Carnicer J.,Community and Conservation Ecology Group | Carnicer J.,Global Ecology Unit | Brotons L.,Center Tecnologic restal Of Catalonia Ctfc | Stefanescu C.,Global Ecology Unit | Penuelas J.,Global Ecology Unit
Biological Reviews

Here we review how adaptive traits contribute to the emergence and maintenance of species richness gradients through their influence on demographic and diversification processes. We start by reviewing how demographic dynamics change along species richness gradients. Empirical studies show that geographical clines in population parameters and measures of demographic variability are frequent along latitudinal and altitudinal gradients. Demographic variability often increases at the extremes of regional species richness gradients and contributes to shape these gradients. Available studies suggest that adaptive traits significantly influence demographic dynamics, and set the limits of species distributions. Traits related to thermal tolerance, resource use, phenology and dispersal seem to play a significant role. For many traits affecting demography and/or diversification processes, complex mechanistic approaches linking genotype, phenotype and fitness are becoming progressively available. In several taxa, species can be distributed along adaptive trait continuums, i.e. a main axis accounting for the bulk of inter-specific variation in some correlated adaptive traits. It is shown that adaptive trait continuums can provide useful mechanistic frameworks to explain demographic dynamics and diversification in species richness gradients. Finally, we review the existence of sequences of adaptive traits in phylogenies, the interactions of adaptive traits and community context, the clinal variation of traits across geographical gradients, and the role of adaptive traits in determining the history of dispersal and diversification of clades. Overall, we show that the study of demographic and evolutionary mechanisms that shape species richness gradients clearly requires the explicit consideration of adaptive traits. To conclude, future research lines and trends in the field are briefly outlined. © 2011 The Authors. Biological Reviews © 2011 Cambridge Philosophical Society. Source

Stefanescu C.,Butterfly Monitoring Scheme | Paramo F.,Butterfly Monitoring Scheme | Akesson S.,Lund University | Alarcon M.,Polytechnic University of Catalonia | And 28 more authors.

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. Source

Flores O.,CNRS Center of Evolutionary and Functional Ecology | Flores O.,University of Reunion Island | Garnier E.,CNRS Center of Evolutionary and Functional Ecology | Wright I.J.,Macquarie University | And 30 more authors.
Ecology and Evolution

In plant leaves, resource use follows a trade-off between rapid resource capture and conservative storage. This "worldwide leaf economics spectrum" consists of a suite of intercorrelated leaf traits, among which leaf mass per area, LMA, is one of the most fundamental as it indicates the cost of leaf construction and light-interception borne by plants. We conducted a broad-scale analysis of the evolutionary history of LMA across a large dataset of 5401 vascular plant species. The phylogenetic signal in LMA displayed low but significant conservatism, that is, leaf economics tended to be more similar among close relatives than expected by chance alone. Models of trait evolution indicated that LMA evolved under weak stabilizing selection. Moreover, results suggest that different optimal phenotypes evolved among large clades within which extremes tended to be selected against. Conservatism in LMA was strongly related to growth form, as were selection intensity and phenotypic evolutionary rates: woody plants showed higher conservatism in relation to stronger stabilizing selection and lower evolutionary rates compared to herbaceous taxa. The evolutionary history of LMA thus paints different evolutionary trajectories of vascular plant species across clades, revealing the coordination of leaf trait evolution with growth forms in response to varying selection regimes. Phylogenetic patterns in a key trait of plants resource-use strategies, leaf mass per area, are analyzed across a large dataset of vascular plants. Growth forms appear as a major correlate of the tempo of trait evolution. Different phenotypic optima are evidenced major across clades suggesting phylogenetic constraints in the phenotypic evolution of leaves. © 2014 The Authors. Source

Van De Koppel J.,Netherlands Institute for Sea Research | Van De Koppel J.,Community and Conservation Ecology Group | Van Der Heide T.,Community and Conservation Ecology Group | Van Der Heide T.,Radboud University Nijmegen | And 5 more authors.
Annual Review of Marine Science

Mounting evidence indicates that spatial interactions are important in structuring coastal ecosystems. Until recently, however, most of this work has been focused on seemingly exceptional systems that are characterized by regular, self-organized patterns. In this review, we document that interactions that operate at long distances, beyond the direct neighborhood of individual organisms, are more common and have much more far-reaching implications for coastal ecosystems than was previously realized. We review studies from a variety of ecosystem types-including cobble beaches, mussel beds, coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangrove forests-that reveal a startling interplay of positive and negative interactions between habitats across distances of up to a kilometer. In addition to classical feeding relations, alterations of physical conditions constitute an important part of these long-distance interactions. This entanglement of habitats has crucial implications for how humans manage coastal ecosystems, and evaluations of anthropogenic impact should explicitly address long-distance and system-wide effects before we deem these human activities to be causing little harm. Copyright © 2015 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved. Source

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