Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Species interactions & evolution

Hi from ESA Albuquerque!

I've been in the organized session on species interactions and evolution all morning and there were some great talks (e.g., Silvertown, Ackerly, Cavender-Bares, etc.). But I think what really got me excited were some of the questions after each talk. Following Jonathan Silvertown's talk, Steve Hubbell asked some questions that get to the heart of addressing what phylogenies mean for community assembly. Silvertown showed that within plots, species of a large South African family of plants in the Fynbos seemed to spatially segragate according to hydrological niches and that within these plots there was a lack of phylogenetic signal in this niche. Hubbell then asked two critical questions: How many other species (in other families) co-occur in these niches and if related species have similar niches at a larger scale. To me this is at the core of uderstanding how phylogenies inform our understanding of community assembly. Basically, what haven't we measured? If we include all sister species into a phylogeny, do we change our understanding of the processes structuring communities?

More later!

1 comment:

Ben jamin said...

I didn't see the talk but this latest paper from Steven Kembel in Ecology Letters is a good attempt to question what exactly phylogenetic analyses can tell us about ecological niches vs. neutral processes.