Ecophylogenetics redux.

Ecology Letters
T Jonathan Davies


Species' evolutionary histories shape their present-day ecologies, but the integration of phylogenetic approaches in ecology has had a contentious history. The field of ecophylogenetics promised to reveal the process of community assembly from simple indices of phylogenetic pairwise distances - communities shaped by environmental filtering were composed of closely related species, whereas communities shaped by competition were composed of less closely related species. However, the mapping of ecology onto phylogeny proved to be not so straightforward, and the field remains mired in controversy. Nonetheless, ecophylogenetic methods provided important advances across ecology. For example the phylogenetic distances between species is a strong predictor of pest and pathogen sharing, and can thus inform models of species invasion, coexistence and the disease dilution/amplification effect of biodiversity. The phylogenetic structure of communities may also provide information on niche space occupancy, helping interpret patterns of facilitation, succession and ecosystem functioning - with relevance for conservation and restoration - and the dynamics among species within foodwebs and metacommunities. I suggest leveraging advances in our ...Continue Reading


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