Evol Ecol Res 8: 677-690 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Extending the study of range–abundance relations to tropical insects: sphingid moths in Southeast Asia

Jan Beck,1* Ian J. Kitching2 and K. Eduard Linsenmair1

1Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, Biocenter, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, D-97074 Würzburg, Germany and  2Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK

Address all correspondence to Jan Beck, Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre, Department of Biology, University Brunei Darussalam, BE1410 Gadong, Brunei.
e-mail: jan.beck@gmx.net


Question: Is there a positive relationship between local abundance and geographic range size in tropical insects? Studies on other taxa have suggested this relationship is a general rule in community ecology.

Data studied: Comprehensive range area measurements from GIS-supported distribution estimates and local abundance measures based on light trapping were available for sphingid moths across Southeast Asia and the Malesian archipelago. Data stem from a combination of our own fieldwork and published and unpublished collections.

Search method: We regressed range area of species on their local commonness within each sample site. We then used meta-analysis to test for an effect across sites, as well as to detect differences between habitat types and regions. We repeated all analyses with independent contrasts to control for potential impacts of phylogeny (using a taxonomic classification as a surrogate for a phylogeny).

Conclusions: Range size is related to local abundance. It would appear that there is an influence of geographical position and habitat disturbance on the strength of the relationship. Correlations of range and abundance with the number of larval host plant families used, as well as other cues for a mechanistic explanation of the range–abundance relationship, are discussed.

Keywords: density, distribution, macroecology, meta-analysis.

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