Evol Ecol Res 15: 853-868 (2013)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Understanding the concepts of community phylogenetics

Charlotte Ndiribe1,2, Nicolas Salamin1,2 and Antoine Guisan1,3

1Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biophore, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland,  2Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Genopode, Lausanne, Switzerland and  3Institute of Earth Sciences, Geopolis, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

Correspondence: C. Ndiribe, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biophore, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.
e-mail: charlotte.ndiribe@unil.ch


Background: Community phylogenetics is an emerging field of research that has made important contributions to understanding community assembly. The rapid development of this field can be attributed to the merging of phylogenetics and community ecology research to provide improved clarity on the processes that govern community structure and composition.

Question: What are the major challenges that impede the sound interpretation of the patterns and processes of phylogenetic community assembly?

Methods: We use four scenarios to illustrate explicitly how the phylogenetic structure of communities can exist in stable or transient phases, based on the different combinations of phylogenetic relationships and phenotypic traits among co-occurring species. We discuss these phases by implicating a two-way process in the assembly and disintegration of the given ecological community.

Conclusions: This paper synthesizes the major concepts of community phylogenetics using habitat filtering and competition processes to elucidate how the understanding of phylogenetic community structure is currently hindered by the dynamics of community assembly and disassembly.

Keywords: community assembly, community phylogenetics, niche conservatism, trait evolution.

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