Evol Ecol Res 1: 347-364 (1999)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Phylogenetic effects on morphological, life-history, behavioural and ecological traits of birds

Katrin Böhning-Gaese1,2 and Reik Oberrath1

1Institut für Zoologie/Tierphysiologie, RWTH Aachen, Kopernikusstrasse 16, D-52074 Aachen and 2Vogelwarte Radolfzell, Research Centre for Ornithology of the Max-Planck-Society, D-78315 Radolfzell, Germany

Address all correspondence to Katrin Böhning-Gaese, Institut für Zoologie/Tierphysiologie, RWTH Aachen, Kopernikusstrasse 16, D-52074 Aachen, Germany.
e-mail: boehning@bio2.rwth-aachen.de


The aim of this study was to assess the influence of phylogenetic history on 21 avian morphological, life-history, behavioural and ecological traits using Mantel permutation tests. The results demonstrated that, for 13 of 21 traits, closely related species were significantly more similar than distantly related species. For diet and for all morphological and life-history traits except number of clutches per year, phylogeny accounted for a notable amount of variation in trait values. However, for most behavioural and ecological traits, relatedness explained less than 1% of the variation among species. Because phylogenetic effects were weak in traits traditionally associated with the niche of a species, we conclude that phylogenetic effects do not reflect phylogenetic niche conservatism. When tested at different phylogenetic levels (complete phylogeny, within families, among families, among orders), phylogenetic effects were very variable. Only two traits had consistently strong phylogenetic effects at all phylogenetic levels and only two traits had consistently weak phylogenetic effects at all phylogenetic levels. Phylogenetic effects tended to be positive but relatively weak within families, positive and strong among families, and negative and weak among orders. Methods that intend to control for phylogenetic effects by working solely within families, among families, or among orders are not reliable in removing phylogenetic effects.

Keywords: avian traits, behaviour, ecology, life history, Mantel permutation tests, morphology, phylogenetic effects, phylogenetic relatedness.

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        © 1999 Katrin Bohning-Gaese. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

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