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History and Diversity: Explorations at the Intersection of Ecology and Evolution

Robert E. Ricklefs
The American Naturalist
Vol. 170, No. S2, Merging Evolutionary and Ecological Approaches to Understanding Geographic Gradients in Species RichnessA Symposium Organized by Susan Harrison (August 2007), pp. S56-S70
DOI: 10.1086/519402
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/519402
Page Count: 15
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History and Diversity: Explorations at the Intersection of Ecology and Evolution
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Abstract

Abstract: Phylogenetic analysis provides an important tool for assessing the influence of historical and evolutionary processes on the structure of contemporary ecological systems. Patterns of diversity, for example, represent the regional buildup of species through immigration and diversification, their loss through extinction, and the sorting of species ecologically within the region. Colonization‐extinction dynamics on islands can be inferred from lineage accumulation through time. Lineage branching within clades can be used to estimate rates of speciation and extinction. However, simulations of these processes show potential ambiguities in the interpretation of data. Clade size is unrelated to age in many studies, suggesting that speciation and extinction might be in long‐term equilibrium and raising questions about unobserved past diversity. Among passerine birds and other groups, the size of similar‐aged clades is positively related to the size of the region within which they have diversified, and it is greater in tropical than in temperate regions. There is no consensus on the causes of these patterns. Finally, the ecological interactions between populations within regions brings the timescale of species sorting and species production close to each other and emphasizes the important interaction of ecological and evolutionary processes in shaping ecological systems.

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