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Absence of phylogenetic signal in the niche structure of meadow plant communities

Silvertown, Jonathan; McConway, Kevin; Gowing, David; Dodd, Mike; Fay, Michael F.; Joseph, Jeffrey A. and Dolphin, Konrad (2006). Absence of phylogenetic signal in the niche structure of meadow plant communities. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 273(1582) pp. 39–44.

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DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2005.3288
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Abstract

A significant proportion of the global diversity of flowering plants has evolved in recent geological time, probably through adaptive radiation into new niches. However, rapid evolution is at odds with recent research which has suggested that plant ecological traits, including the beta- (or habitat) niche, evolve only slowly. We have quantified traits that determine within-habitat alpha diversity (alpha niches) in two communities in which species segregate on hydrological gradients. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of these data shows practically no evidence of a correlation between the ecological and evolutionary distances separating species, indicating that hydrological alpha niches are evolutionarily labile. We propose that contrasting patterns of evolutionary conservatism for alpha- and beta-niches is a general phenomenon necessitated by the hierarchical filtering of species during community assembly. This determines that species must have similar alpha niches in order to occupy the same habitat, but different alpha niches in order to coexist.

Item Type: Journal Article
Copyright Holders: 2006 The Royal Society
ISSN: 1471-2954
Keywords: plant community structure; niche; evolution; rbcL; community assembly
Academic Unit/Department: Science > Environment, Earth and Ecosystems
Mathematics, Computing and Technology > Mathematics and Statistics
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)
OpenSpace Research Centre (OSRC)
Item ID: 27624
Depositing User: Michael Dodd
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2011 09:48
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2011 08:26
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/27624
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