Data from: Heterospecific courtship, minority effects and niche separation between cryptic butterfly species.
Friberg, Magne; Leimar, Olof; Wiklund, Christer (2012), Data from: Heterospecific courtship, minority effects and niche separation between cryptic butterfly species., Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.c170h
Species interacting in varied ecological conditions often evolve in different directions in different local populations. The butterflies of the cryptic Leptidea complex are sympatrically distributed in different combinations across their Eurasian range. Interestingly, the same species is a habitat generalist in some regions and a habitat specialist in others, where a sibling species has the habitat generalist role. Previous studies suggest that this geographically variable niche divergence is generated by local processes in different contact zones. By varying the absolute and relative densities of Leptidea sinapis and Leptidea juvernica in large outdoor cages, we show that female mating success is unaffected by conspecific density, but strongly negatively affected by the density of the other species. Whereas 80% of the females mated when a conspecific couple was alone in a cage, less than 10% mated when the single couple shared the cage with five pairs of the other species. The heterospecific courtships can thus affect the population fitness, and for the species in the local minority, the suitability of a habitat is likely to depend on the presence or absence of the locally interacting species. If the local relative abundance of the different species depends on the colonization order, priority effects might determine the ecological roles of interacting species in this system.