"Species traits as predictors of lepidopteran composition in restored and remnant tallgrass prairies"
Summerville, Keith S.
Conoan, Christopher J.
Steichen, Renae M.
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Restoration ecologists are increasingly turning to the development of trait-filter models, which predict how evolved traits limit species membership within assemblages depending on existing abiotic or biotic constraints, as a tool to explain how species move from a regional species pool into a restored community. Two often untested assumptions of these models, however, are that species traits can reliably predict species' broadscale distribution and that the effects of traits on community membership do not vary between restored and remnant habitats. The goals of this study were to determine whether combinations of ecological traits predispose moth species toward recolonization of restored prairies and to assess the degree to which restored prairies contain moth assemblages comparable with prairie remnants. In 2004, we collected 259 moth species from 13 tallgrass prairie remnants and restorations in central Iowa. Principal components analysis (PCA) was used to identify significant combinations of ecological traits that were shared by groups of moth species. Logistic regression was then employed to test for significant effects of the trait combinations on the frequency of prairie sites occupied by moth species. PCA partitioned moth traits into four axes that explained a total of 81.6% of the variance. Logistic regression detected significant effects for all four PCA axes on the fraction of sites occupied by moths. Species frequently filtered from the regional species pool into prairies were those that had long flight periods and were multivoltine, displayed a feeding preference for legumes but not other forb families, and were regionally abundant but relatively small in body size. Ordination revealed significant differences in moth communities among prairies, suggesting that species traits and habitat characteristics likely interact to create observed patterns of species recolonization of restorations. Thus, the optimal approach to restoring the lepidopteran fauna of tallgrass prairies may involve locating prairie plantings adjacent to habitat remnants.© 2006 by the Ecological Society of America.