High phylogenetic diversity is preserved in species-poor high-elevation temperate moth assemblages.


Understanding the diversity and composition of species assemblages and identifying underlying biotic and abiotic determinants represent great ecological challenges. Addressing some of these issues, we investigated the α-diversity and phylogenetic composition of species-rich geometrid moth (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) assemblages in the mature temperate forest on Changbai Mountain. A total of 9285 geometrid moths representing 131 species were collected, with many species displaying wide elevational distribution ranges. Moth α-diversity decreased monotonously, while the standardized effect size of mean pairwise phylogenetic distances (MPD) and phylogenetic diversity (PD) increased significantly with increasing elevation. At high elevations, the insect assemblages consisted largely of habitat generalists that were individually more phylogenetically distinct from co-occurring species than species in assemblages at lower altitudes. This could hint at higher speciation rates in more favourable low-elevation environments generating a species-rich geometrid assemblage, while exclusion of phylogenetically closely related species becomes increasingly important in shaping moth assemblages at higher elevations. Overall, it appears likely that high-elevation temperate moth assemblages are strongly resilient to environmental change, and that they contain a much larger proportion of the genetic diversity encountered at low-elevation assemblages in comparison to tropical geometrid communities.

DOI: 10.1038/srep23045

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@article{Zou2016HighPD, title={High phylogenetic diversity is preserved in species-poor high-elevation temperate moth assemblages.}, author={Yi Zou and Weiguo Sang and Axel Hausmann and Jan Christoph Axmacher}, journal={Scientific reports}, year={2016}, volume={6}, pages={23045} }