Increasing phylogenetic stochasticity at high elevations on summits across a remote North American wilderness

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Hannah E MarxDavid C Tank


PREMISE OF THE STUDY: At the intersection of ecology and evolutionary biology, community phylogenetics can provide insights into overarching biodiversity patterns, particularly in remote and understudied ecosystems. To understand community assembly of the high-alpine flora of the Sawtooth National Forest, USA, we analyzed phylogenetic structure within and between nine summit communities. METHODS: We used high-throughput sequencing to supplement existing data and infer a nearly completely sampled community phylogeny of the alpine vascular flora. We calculated mean nearest taxon distance (MNTD) and mean pairwise distance (MPD) to quantify phylogenetic divergence within summits, and assed how maximum elevation explains phylogenetic structure. To evaluate similarities between summits we quantified phylogenetic turnover, taking into consideration micro-habitats (talus vs. meadows). KEY RESULTS: We found different patterns of community phylogenetic structure within the six most species-rich orders, but across all vascular plants phylogenetic structure was largely no different from random. There was a significant negative correlation between elevation and tree-wide phylogenetic diversity (MPD) within summits: significant overdispersio...Continue Reading

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