Evol Ecol Res 14: 269-284 (2012)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

On the origin of phylogenetic structure in competitive metacommunities

Mikael Pontarp, Jörgen Ripa and Per Lundberg

Theoretical Population Ecology and Evolution Group, Department of Biology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Correspondence: M. Pontarp, Department of Biology, Ecology Building, Lund University, 223 62 Lund, Sweden.
e-mail: mikael.pontarp@biol.lu.se


Question: Under what circumstances are local communities and metacommunities phylogenetically clustered, overdispersed or random assemblages in terms of phylogenetic relatedness?

Methods: An individual-based eco-evolutionary model was used to explain the link between system properties, ecological and evolutionary processes, and phylogenetic patterns in a spatially explicit competitive metacommunity. We simulated adaptive radiation dictated by local ecological dynamics (intra- and inter-specific competition) and dispersal. Phylogenies were constructed from the resulting metacommunities and phylogenetic community structure was analysed.

Conclusions: Phylogenetic clustering, dictated by the relative rate between eco-evolutionary processes such as colonization, invasion, and local radiation, are more likely if both intra- and inter-habitat heterogeneity is high. The amount of dispersal between habitats is also an important structuring parameter, but mainly so if intra-habitat heterogeneity is high and inter-habitat heterogeneity is low. Our results are based on a more rigorous and quantitative analysis of the ecological and evolutionary conditions dictating the phylogenetic signal and explain the continuous variability of phylogenetic clustering and overdispersion found in natural systems.

Keywords: assembly, community, competition, ecology, evolution, phylogenetic structure.

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