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Creators/Authors contains: "Davies, T. Jonathan"

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  1. Abstract

    Native biodiversity decline and non-native species spread are major features of the Anthropocene. Both processes can drive biotic homogenization by reducing trait and phylogenetic differences in species assemblages between regions, thus diminishing the regional distinctiveness of biotas and likely have negative impacts on key ecosystem functions. However, a global assessment of this phenomenon is lacking. Here, using a dataset of >200,000 plant species, we demonstrate widespread and temporal decreases in species and phylogenetic turnover across grain sizes and spatial extents. The extent of homogenization within major biomes is pronounced and is overwhelmingly explained by non-native species naturalizations. Asia and North America are major sources of non-native species; however, the species they export tend to be phylogenetically close to recipient floras. Australia, the Pacific and Europe, in contrast, contribute fewer species to the global pool of non-natives, but represent a disproportionate amount of phylogenetic diversity. The timeline of most naturalisations coincides with widespread human migration within the last ~500 years, and demonstrates the profound influence humans exert on regional biotas beyond changes in species richness.

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  2. Abstract

    Species interactions drive ecosystem processes and are a major focus of global change research. Among the most consequential interactions expected to shift with climate change are those between insect herbivores and plants, both of which are highly sensitive to temperature. Insect herbivores and their host plants display varying levels of synchrony that could be disrupted or enhanced by climate change, yet empirical data on changes in synchrony are lacking. Using evidence of herbivory on herbarium specimens collected from the northeastern United States and France from 1900 to 2015, we provide evidence that plant species with temperature‐sensitive phenologies experience higher levels of insect damage in warmer years, while less temperature‐sensitive, co‐occurring species do not. While herbivory might be mediated by interactions between warming and phenology through multiple pathways, we suggest that warming might lengthen growing seasons for phenologically sensitive plant species, exposing their leaves to herbivores for longer periods of time in warm years. We propose that elevated herbivory in warm years may represent a previously underappreciated cost to phenological tracking of climate change over longer timescales.

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  3. Abstract

    Microbiomes impact a variety of processes including a host’s ability to access nutrients and maintain health. While host species differences in microbiomes have been described across ecosystems, little is known about how microbiomes assemble, particularly in the ecological and social contexts in which they evolved. We examined gut microbiome composition in nine sympatric wild non-human primate (NHP) species. Despite sharing an environment and interspecific interactions, individuals harbored unique and persistent microbiomes influenced by host species, social group, and parentage, but surprisingly not by social relationships among members of a social group. We found a branching order of host-species networks constructed using the composition of their microbiomes as characters, which was incongruent with known NHP phylogenetic relationships, with chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) sister to colobines, upon which they regularly prey. In contrast to phylogenetic clustering found in all monkey microbiomes, chimpanzee microbiomes were unique in that they exhibited patterns of phylogenetic overdispersion. This reflects unique ecological processes impacting microbiome composition in chimpanzees and future studies will elucidate the aspects of chimpanzee ecology, life history, and physiology that explain their unique microbiome community structure. Our study of contemporaneous microbiomes of all sympatric diurnal NHP in an ecosystem highlights the diverse dispersal routes shaping these complex communities.

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  4. Abstract Aim

    Community phylogenetic studies use information about the evolutionary relationships of species to understand the ecological processes of community assembly. A central premise of the field is that the evolution of species maps onto ecological patterns, and phylogeny reveals something more than species traits alone about the ecological mechanisms structuring communities, such as environmental filtering, competition, and facilitation. We argue, therefore, that there is a need for better understanding and modelling of the interaction of phylogeny with species traits and community composition.


    We outline a new approach that identifies clades that are ecophylogenetically clustered or overdispersed and assesses whether those clades have different rates of trait evolution. Ecophylogenetic theory would predict that the traits of clustered or overdispersed clades might have evolved differently, in terms of either tempo (fast or slow) or mode (e.g., under constraint or neutrally). We suggest that modelling the evolution of independent trait data in these clades represents a strong test of whether there is an association between the ecological co‐occurrence patterns of a species and its evolutionary history.

    Main conclusions

    Using an empirical dataset of mammals from around the world, we identify two clades of rodents whose species tend not to co‐occur in the same local assemblages (are phylogenetically overdispersed) and find independent evidence of slower rates of body mass evolution in these clades. Our approach, which assumes nothing about the mode of species trait evolution but instead seeks to explain it using ecological information, presents a new way to examine ecophylogenetic structure.

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  5. Abstract Aim

    Closely related species tend to resemble each other in their morphology and ecology because of shared ancestry. When exploring correlations between species traits, therefore, species cannot be treated as statistically independent. Phylogenetic comparative methods (PCMs) attempt to correct statistically for this shared evolutionary history. Almost all such approaches, however, assume that correlations between traits are constant across the tips of the tree, which we refer to as phylogenetic stationarity. We suggest that this assumption of phylogenetic stationarity might be often violated and that relationships between species traits might evolve alongside clades, for example, owing to the effects of unmeasured traits or other latent variables. Specific examples range from shifts in allometric scaling relationships between clades (e.g., basal metabolic rate and body mass in endotherms, and tree diameter and biomass in trees) to the differing relationship between leaf mass per area and shade tolerance in deciduous versus evergreen trees and shrubs.


    Here, we introduce an exploratory modelling framework, phylogenetically weighted regression, which represents an extension of geographically weighted regression (GWR) used in spatial studies, to allow non‐stationarity in model parameters across a phylogenetic tree. We demonstrate our approach using empirical data on flowering time and seed mass from a well‐studied plant community in southeastern Sweden. Our model reveals strong, diverging trends across the phylogeny, including changes in the sign of the relationship between clades.

    Main conclusions

    By allowing for phylogenetic non‐stationarity, we are able to detect shifting relationships among species traits that would be obscured in traditional PCMs; thus, we suggest that PWR might be an important exploratory tool in the search for key missing variables in comparative analyses.

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