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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Noctuid moth diversity along a temperate elevational gradient: testing the role of environmental factors, MDE, and Rapoport's rule

item Sanders, Nathan
item Pogue, Michael
item Dunn, Robert

Submitted to: Ecography
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2009
Publication Date: 2/10/2010
Citation: Sanders, N.J., Pogue, M.G., Dunn, R.R. 2010. Noctuid moth diversity along a temperate elevational gradient: testing the role of environmental factors, MDE, and Rapoport's rule. Ecography. p. 75-87.

Interpretive Summary: Cutworm moths are the most diverse group of moths and cause millions of dollars damage to agricultural crops. This paper provides the first analysis of diversity of a moth group at different elevations in the temperate zone. Data were used from a survey of the cutworm moths of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. We found in this survey that diversity declines with elevation and it suggests that climatic factors are responsible for this gradient in diversity. This information will be useful for scientists, ecologists, and resource managers to better understand and protect our National Parks and natural resources

Technical Abstract: Many factors, including climate, area, and habitat diversity likely influence spatial variation in species diversity along elevational gradients. In this study, we test the relative influence of energy availability, habitat diversity, mid-domain effects, and area on the diversity of noctuid moths in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA. We sampled noctuid moths at 121 sites ranging in elevation from 300-2100m. We found that the total number of noctuid moth species and the number of rare and common species declined with elevation. Noctuid diversity was best explained by abundance: sites with many individuals had many species, and abundance was positively correlated with amount of productive energy. The strong links among energy availability, abundance, and diversity found here support the More Individuals Hypothesis. When variation in abundance was accounted for, habitat diversity, rather than ambient energy, accounted variation in diversity. In no case did either mid-domain effects or area influence diversity. Taken together, our results suggestion that climatic factors, and the availability of ambient energy in particular, explain this elevational diversity gradient.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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