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Combining spatial and phylogenetic eigenvector filtering in trait analysis

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To analyse the effects of simultaneously using spatial and phylogenetic information in removing spatial autocorrelation of residuals within a multiple regression framework of trait analysis. Location 

Switzerland, Europe. Methods 

We used an eigenvector filtering approach to analyse the relationship between spatial distribution of a trait (flowering phenology) and environmental covariates in a multiple regression framework. Eigenvector filters were calculated from ordinations of distance matrices. Distance matrices were either based on pure spatial information, pure phylogenetic information or spatially structured phylogenetic information. In the multiple regression, those filters were selected which best reduced Moran's I coefficient of residual autocorrelation. These were added as covariates to a regression model of environmental variables explaining trait distribution. Results 

The simultaneous provision of spatial and phylogenetic information was effectively able to remove residual autocorrelation in the analysis. Adding phylogenetic information was superior to adding purely spatial information. Applying filters showed altered results, i.e. different environmental predictors were seen to be significant. Nevertheless, mean annual temperature and calcareous substrate remained the most important predictors to explain the onset of flowering in Switzerland; namely, the warmer the temperature and the more calcareous the substrate, the earlier the onset of flowering. A sequential approach, i.e. first removing the phylogenetic signal from traits and then applying a spatial analysis, did not provide more information or yield less autocorrelation than simple or purely spatial models. Main conclusions 

The combination of spatial and spatio-phylogenetic information is recommended in the analysis of trait distribution data in a multiple regression framework. This approach is an efficient means for reducing residual autocorrelation and for testing the robustness of results, including the indication of incomplete parameterizations, and can facilitate ecological interpretation.

Keywords: Central Europe; environmental correlates; phenology; phylogenetic autocorrelation; spatial autocorrelation; trait distribution

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Research Unit Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, Zuercherstrasse 111, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland 2: UFZ, Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Department of Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Strasse 4, 06120 Halle, Germany,

Publication date: 2009-11-01

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