Evol Ecol Res 18: 61-95 (2017)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Clade sorting has a greater effect than local adaptation on ecometric patterns in Carnivora

P. David Polly1, Jesualdo Fuentes-Gonzalez2, A. Michelle Lawing3, Allison K. Bormet1 and Robert G. Dundas4

1Department of Geological Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA,  2Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA,  3Department of  Ecosystems Science and Management, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA and  4College of Science and Mathematics, California State University, Fresno, California, USA 

Correspondence: P.D. Polly, Department of Geological Sciences, Indiana University, 1001 E. 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA. email: pdpolly@indiana.edu


Background: Ecometric patterning is the sorting of mean values of functional traits in communities in space through time at continental scales. Ecometric patterns can emerge from intraspecific population-level processes (selection along an environmental gradient), species-level processes (geographic sorting of species based on functional trait differences), or clade-level processes (geographic sorting based on phylogenetically shared traits). We analysed a hind limb ratio related to locomotion in carnivores (Mammalia, Carnivora) to determine (1) whether its ecometric patterning involves intraspecific population-level evolutionary processes; (2) whether ecometric patterning is produced by clade sorting processes; and (3) how ecometric patterns are altered by species turnover during glacial–interglacial cycles.

Data: We analysed (1) intraspecific variation in hind limb ratio in five species to evaluate the importance of population-level processes in ecometric patterning; (2) the distributions of ratios within and among communities to evaluate the importance of clade sorting; and (3) the distributions of ratios of seven glacial fossil assemblages to evaluate temporal dynamics in ecometric patterns. We also analysed three-dimensional calcaneum shape to assess the strength of phylogenetic and functional components of hind limb variation.

Analytical methods: Geometric morphometrics, phylogenetic comparative methods, and phylogenetic community assembly methods were used to evaluate trait-based clade sorting; RLQ analysis was used to measure the correlation between vegetation openness, spatial scale, species occurrences, phylogeny, and hind limb traits; and trait space was used to analyse turnover between glacial and extant carnivore communities.

Results: Population-level selection is either too weak or ineffective to produce hind limb trait gradients within carnivore species; however, clade-level trait-based sorting has a strong impact on community-level trait distributions. RLQ analysis demonstrates that clade membership interacts with hind limb ratios and vegetation openness in carnivore community assembly. Glacial–interglacial cycles produced turnover in faunas and hind limb trait distributions regardless of location or biome.

Keywords: clade sorting, ecometrics, functional traits, geographic variation, limb proportions, locomotor morphology, spatial patterning.

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