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Phylogenetic and ecological structure of Mediterranean caddisfly communities at various spatio‐temporal scales

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Abstract:

Abstract

Aim  The evolutionary processes structuring the composition of communities remain unclear due to the complexity of factors active at various spatial and temporal scales. Here, we conducted ecological and evolutionary analyses of communities of caddisflies in the genus Hydropsyche (Insecta: Trichoptera) composed of ecomorphologically differentiated species.

Location  River ecosystems in the Iberian Peninsula and northern Morocco.

Methods  Nineteen environmental variables were assessed at 180 local study sites and species presence/absence at these sites was used to determine their ecological niche. The evolutionary framework for all 19 species of Hydropsyche encountered was generated by phylogenetic analysis of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene and three nuclear genes: wingless, elongation factor 1‐alpha and 28S RNA. The phylogenetic tree was used: (1) to assess evolutionary niche conservatism by ecological trait correlation with the tree; and (2) to analyse the phylogenetic relatedness of community member species, at three spatial scales (local stream reaches, drainage basins, biogeographical regions).

Results  Ecological measurements grouped most species into either headwater, mid‐stream or lowland specialists, and traits presumably relevant to river zonation were found to be phylogenetically conservative. Species assemblages at local stream reaches were mostly mono‐ or dispecific. Species diversity increased at larger spatial scales, by adding species with non‐overlapping ecological niches at the level of river basins and by turnover of anciently differentiated lineages at the level of biogeographical regions. This indicates the effects of competition and niche filtering on community structure locally, and ancient ecological diversification and allopatric speciation, respectively, in building up the species pool at basin and biogeographical scales.

Main conclusions  The study demonstrates the importance of scale (grain size) in studying what determines community composition. Current ecological factors (i.e. competitive exclusion) in Hydropsyche were evident only when studying narrow local sites, while studies of assemblages at larger spatial scales instead demonstrated the roles of ecological niche differentiation, phylogenetic history of trait diversification and allopatric speciation. Increasing the grain size of investigation reveals different portions of correlated spatial and evolutionary processes.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2699.2012.02729.x

Affiliations: 1: Grup de Recerca Freshwater Ecology and Management (FEM), Departament d’Ecologia, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, 08028 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain 2: Departament de Biologia Animal, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, 08028 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain 3: Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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