A new dynamic null model for phylogenetic community structure

Alex L Pigot, Rampal S Etienne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
198 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Phylogenies are increasingly applied to identify the mechanisms structuring ecological communities but progress has been hindered by a reliance on statistical null models that ignore the historical process of community assembly. Here, we address this, and develop a dynamic null model of assembly by allopatric speciation, colonisation and local extinction. Incorporating these processes fundamentally alters the structure of communities expected due to chance, with speciation leading to phylogenetic overdispersion compared to a classical statistical null model assuming equal probabilities of community membership. Applying this method to bird and primate communities in South America we show that patterns of phylogenetic overdispersion - often attributed to negative biotic interactions - are instead consistent with a species neutral model of allopatric speciation, colonisation and local extinction. Our findings provide a new null expectation for phylogenetic community patterns and highlight the importance of explicitly accounting for the dynamic history of assembly when testing the mechanisms governing community structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-163
Number of pages11
JournalEcology Letters
Volume18
Issue number2
Early online date6-Jan-2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2015

Keywords

  • Colonisation
  • community assembly
  • extinction
  • null model
  • phylogeny
  • speciation
  • traits
  • ECOLOGICAL COMMUNITIES
  • STOCHASTIC SIMULATION
  • TREE COMMUNITY
  • DIVERSIFICATION
  • ASSEMBLAGES
  • FOREST
  • TRAIT
  • DIVERSITY
  • EVOLUTION
  • BIOLOGY

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