Hélène Audusseau

Hélène Audusseau


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Works at Department of Zoology
Visiting address Svante Arrheniusväg 18 B
Postal address Zoologiska institutionen: Ekologi 106 91 Stockholm


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Hélène Audusseau (et al.). Journal of Biogeography 44 (1), 28-38

    Aim: Changes in community composition resulting from environmental changes modify biotic interactions and affect the distribution and density of local populations. Such changes are currently occurring in nettle-feeding butterflies in Sweden where Araschnia levana has recently expanded its range northward and is now likely to interact with resident species (Aglais urticae and Aglais io). Butterfly occurrence data collected over years and across regions enabled us to investigate how a recent range expansion of A. levana may have affected the environmental niche of resident species.

    Location: We focused on two regions of Sweden (Skane and Norrstrom) where A. levana has and has not established and two time periods (2001-2006 and 2009-2012) during its establishment in Skane.

    Methods: We performed two distinct analyses in each region using the PCA-env and the framework described in Broennimann etal. (2012). First, we described the main sources of variation in the environment. Second, in each time period and region, we characterized the realized niches of our focal species across topographic and land use gradients. Third, we quantified overlaps and differences in realized niches between and within species over time.

    Results: In Skane, A. levana has stabilized its distribution over time, while the distribution of the native species has shifted. These shifts depicted a consistent pattern of avoiding overlap between the native species and the environmental space occupied by A. levana, and it was stronger for A. urticae than for A. io. In both regions, we also found evidence of niche partitioning between native species.

    Main conclusions: Interspecific interactions are likely to affect local species distributions. It appears that the ongoing establishment of A. levana has modified local biotic interactions and induced shifts in resident species distributions. Among the mechanisms that can explain such patterns of niche partitioning, parasitoid-driven apparent competition may play an important role in this community.

  • 2016. Hélène Audusseau (et al.). BMC Evolutionary Biology 16

    Background: In plant-feeding insects, the evolutionary retention of polyphagy remains puzzling. A better understanding of the relationship between these organisms and changes in the metabolome of their host plants is likely to suggest functional links between them, and may provide insights into how polyphagy is maintained. Results: We investigated the phenological change of Cynoglossum officinale, and how a generalist butterfly species, Vanessa cardui, responded to this change. We used untargeted metabolite profiling to map plant seasonal changes in both primary and secondary metabolites. We compared these data to differences in larval performance on vegetative plants early and late in the season. We also performed two oviposition preference experiments to test females' ability to choose between plant developmental stages (vegetative and reproductive) early and late in the season. We found clear seasonal changes in plant primary and secondary metabolites that correlated with larval performance. The seasonal change in plant metabolome reflected changes in both nutrition and toxicity and resulted in zero survival in the late period. However, large differences among families in larval ability to feed on C. officinale suggest that there is genetic variation for performance on this host. Moreover, females accepted all plants for oviposition, and were not able to discriminate between plant developmental stages, in spite of the observed overall differences in metabolite profile potentially associated with differences in suitability as larval food. Conclusions: In V. cardui, migratory behavior, and thus larval feeding times, are not synchronized with plant phenology at the reproductive site. This lack of synchronization, coupled with the observed lack of discriminatory oviposition, obviously has potential fitness costs. However, this opportunistic behavior may as well function as a source of potential host plant evolution, promoting for example the acceptance of new plants.

  • 2015. Hélène Audusseau (et al.).

    Anthropogenic changes in climate and land use are causing a dramatic erosion of biodiversity. To understand this erosion, and predict future transformations of biodiversity, we need to understand better species’ response to these changes at different spatial and temporal scales. Modeling studies have identified correlations between physical parameters of the environment and species’ distribution at large spatial scales. However, this does not accurately characterize the response of a specific species, since this does not account for the constraints arising from the biology of the species. This thesis shall combine knowledge on the biology of species obtained from laboratory experiments with modeling studies. This will allow us (i) to identify life history traits and biotic interactions that influence species’ adaptive potential, and hence, explain possible differences in species’ distribution, and (ii) to consider, not only the ecological but also the evolutionary aspects of species’ response to changes. This integrative approach is likely to improve our predictions on species’ population dynamic in a changing environment.

    I focus on a community of butterflies in Sweden (Vanessa cardui, Polygonia c-album, Aglais urticae, Aglais io, Araschnia levana) that feeds on the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). The available knowledge on the biology of these species and their short life cycles, which allow investigations of their response to changes on a short-time scale, make them a good system to study. Among three of these species, I showed great differences in organisms’ response to variation in food nutrient content. This is a potentially important finding considering the increased use of chemical fertilizers. These differences are to a large extent explained by differences among species in their degree of host plant specialization and voltinism (paper II). Thus, life history traits determine the response of species to environmental changes, but are themselves likely to evolve in response to such changes. Climate change, for instance, may alter the phenological synchrony between plant-feeding insects and their host plants, making it necessary for the insects to evolve their host plant range in order to ensure the availability of resources during larval development (paper I & III). The biology of a species, including biotic interactions, helps to explain the observed shift in a species’ distribution and environmental niche that result from climate change. I have shown that the recent establishment of A. levana in southern Sweden has modified the niche of the resident species, A. urticae and A. io (Paper IV). Niche partitioning in this community is likely mediated by parasite-driven apparent competition.

Show all publications by Hélène Audusseau at Stockholm University

Last updated: June 9, 2018

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