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An empirical test of Rapoport's rule: elevational gradients in montane butterfly communities

Ecology 79(7): 2482-2493

An empirical test of Rapoport's rule: elevational gradients in montane butterfly communities

The response of montane butterflies to a 1,300 m elevational gradient in the Toiyabe Range, Nevada, was examined. This study was conducted to test whether the elevational ranges of these butterflies conformed to Rapoport's elevational rule and whether the Rapoport-rescue hypothesis explained the observed species richness patterns. The rule states that species at higher elevations have greater elevational ranges, whereas the hypothesis holds that emigrants from higher elevation populations inflate the species richness of lower-elevation sites. Although species richness peaked at intermediate elevations, elevation and species richness were significantly negatively correlated. Butterflies in species-rich areas had significantly narrower elevational ranges than species in species-poorer areas. The evidence was consistent with Rapoport's elevational rule, but the Rapoport-rescue hypothesis did not completely account for the elevational gradient species richness.

Accession: 003037954

DOI: 10.1890/0012-9658(1998)079[2482:AETORS]2.0.CO;2

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