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Life‐history traits of Central European moths: gradients of variation and their association with rarity and threats

Potocký, Pavel, Bartoňová, Alena, Beneš, Jiří, Zapletal, Michal, Konvička, Martin
Insect conservation and diversity 2018 v.11 no.5 pp. 493-505
Lepidoptera, adults, covariance, diurnal activity, dry environmental conditions, fauna, grasslands, habitat preferences, habitats, leaves, moths, multivoltine habit, phylogeny, trees, univoltine habit, woodlands, Central European region
Analysing faunal changes using life‐history traits (LHT) represents a promising venue in community ecology. We prepared traits table for 1234 species of Central European macro‐moths (Lepidoptera), a species‐rich insect group rather neglected by LHT analyses. Table of 27 LHTs, split into 44 trait states, was subjected to ordination analyses, aiming to disclose the main gradients in the traits’ covariance organising the regional fauna. The main ordination gradient was related to habitats. It contrasted large‐ranging, tree foliage feeding and large‐winged species of humid and wooded habitats from small, trophic specialists feeding on reproductive plants parts and inhabiting non‐wooded, xeric habitats. This gradient sustained control for phylogeny, as well as omission of habitats‐ and biogeography‐related traits from the analyses. The secondary gradient, perpendicular to the former, distinguished multivoltine and univoltine species, the former often mobile and having a long adult period. Two minor gradients were related to defences/seasonality and to adult diurnal activity. The habitats and voltinism gradients predicted current commonness and red‐list status of individual species reasonably well. Life histories are linked to habitat use, commonness and threat levels of individual moths species in Central Europe. The overhelming importance of habitat association mirrors the diversity of habitats used by Central European moths. Species of closed woodlands tend to be more common and less threatened than species of rarer grassland types; multivoltine and mobile species are least threatened. The compiled LHT table will be of use for further conservation‐oriented analyses of the moths communities.