Estimating the Effect of Competition on Trait Evolution Using Maximum Likelihood Inference

Systematic Biology
Jonathan P DruryHélène Morlon


Many classical ecological and evolutionary theoretical frameworks posit that competition between species is an important selective force. For example, in adaptive radiations, resource competition between evolving lineages plays a role in driving phenotypic diversification and exploration of novel ecological space. Nevertheless, current models of trait evolution fit to phylogenies and comparative data sets are not designed to incorporate the effect of competition. The most advanced models in this direction are diversity-dependent models where evolutionary rates depend on lineage diversity. However, these models still treat changes in traits in one branch as independent of the value of traits on other branches, thus ignoring the effect of species similarity on trait evolution. Here, we consider a model where the evolutionary dynamics of traits involved in interspecific interactions are influenced by species similarity in trait values and where we can specify which lineages are in sympatry. We develop a maximum likelihood based approach to fit this model to combined phylogenetic and phenotypic data. Using simulations, we demonstrate that the approach accurately estimates the simulated parameter values across a broad range of param...Continue Reading


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Competitive Behavior
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