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Trait Evolution, Community Assembly, and the Phylogenetic Structure of Ecological Communities

Nathan J. B. Kraft, William K. Cornwell, Campbell O. Webb and David D. Ackerly
The American Naturalist
Vol. 170, No. 2 (August 2007), pp. 271-283
DOI: 10.1086/519400
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/519400
Page Count: 13
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Trait Evolution, Community Assembly, and the Phylogenetic Structure of Ecological Communities
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Abstract

Abstract: Taxa co‐occurring in communities often represent a nonrandom sample, in phenotypic or phylogenetic terms, of the regional species pool. While heuristic arguments have identified processes that create community phylogenetic patterns, further progress hinges on a more comprehensive understanding of the interactions between underlying ecological and evolutionary processes. We created a simulation framework to model trait evolution, assemble communities (via competition, habitat filtering, or neutral assembly), and test the phylogenetic pattern of the resulting communities. We found that phylogenetic community structure is greatest when traits are highly conserved and when multiple traits influence species membership in communities. Habitat filtering produces stronger phylogenetic structure when taxa with derived (as opposed to ancestral) traits are favored in the community. Nearest‐relative tests have greater power to detect patterns due to competition, while total community relatedness tests perform better with habitat filtering. The size of the local community relative to the regional pool strongly influences statistical power; in general, power increases with larger pool sizes for communities created by filtering but decreases for communities created by competition. Our results deepen our understanding of processes that contribute to phylogenetic community structure and provide guidance for the design and interpretation of empirical research.

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