Influencing factors of the nested distribution of butterfly assemblages in the Zhoushan Archipelago, China

Zhang Xuemei1 Han Xufang 1 Liu Liwei2 Xu Aichun 1

(1.College of Life Sciences, China Jiliang University, Hangzhou 310018)
(2.Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, Hangzhou 310012)
【Knowledge Link】community ecology; habitat; Pleistocene

【Abstract】In natural ecosystem, species assemblages in fragmented habitats frequently exhibit a nested subset pattern. Although nestedness has been documented for a wide range of taxa, it is rarely tested in butterfly assemblages in oceanic archipelago ecosystems. We surveyed the butterfly occupancy and abundance on 28 islands using a line-transect method in the Zhoushan Archipelago, China from July to August 2013. We determined island geographical factors (area, isolation) based on the literature and obtained species life-history traits (minimum area requirement, wingspan and body weight) in the laboratory. The recently developed metric WNODF was used to examine the nestedness. Partial Spearman rank correlation was used to evaluate the associations of nestedness and island geographical factors as well as life-history traits related to species extinction and immigration tendencies. We found that the community composition of butterflies in the Zhoushan Archipelago was significantly nested. Island area and species’ minimum area requirements were significantly correlated with nestedness after synthesis for all independent variables. In contrast, according to the null-model random test, nestedness of butterflies might not result from passive sampling or selective colonization. Our results indicate that selective extinction is the main driver of nestedness of butterflies in our system. From a conservation perspective, we suggest that large islands and species with large minimum area requirements should be paid more attention in order to maximize the total number of species preserved.

【Keywords】 habitat fragmentation; nestedness; selective extinction; butterfly; Zhoushan Archipelago;


【Funds】 National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31272325) Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province, China (Grant No. Y5090080)

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This Article



Vol 24, No. 03, Pages 321-331

March 2016


Article Outline



  • 1 Research location
  • 2 Methods
  • 3 Results
  • 4 Discussion
  • References