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Coincidence in the distributions of butterflies and their foodplants

, : Coincidence in the distributions of butterflies and their foodplants. Ecography 21(3): 279-288, June

The relationship between the geographic distribution of consumers and of their hosts (foodplants) is examined using the resident butterfly fauna of Britain. On average, butterfly species that feed on more widely distributed hosts are themselves more widely distributed. However, the relationship is approximately triangular and the upper constraint imposed by the range sizes of hosts is not closely followed; some species have much more restricted ranges than their hosts have. There is no relationship between the proportion of the range of the foodplant that is occupied and the size of the range of the foodplant. Monophagous butterfly species have smaller range sizes than polyphagous species, probably as a consequence of the greater potential range sizes of the latter. Those plant species that are used as hosts by butterflies have larger range sizes than expected by chance, and individual polyphagous butterfly species tend disproportionately to be found in areas containing larger numbers of their host plant species. In sum, this study reveals a complex relationship between the distribution of butterflies and that of their resources (foodplants).


DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.1998.tb00565.x

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