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Climate and Species Richness Predict the Phylogenetic Structure of African Mammal Communities
Public Library of Science One (2015)
  • Jason M Kamilar, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Lydia Beaudrot, University of California - Davis
  • Kaye Reed, Arizona State University
We have little knowledge of how climatic variation (and by proxy, habitat variation) influences
the phylogenetic structure of tropical communities. Here, we quantified the phylogenetic
structure of mammal communities in Africa to investigate how community structure
varies with respect to climate and species richness variation across the continent. In addition,
we investigated how phylogenetic patterns vary across carnivores, primates, and ungulates.
We predicted that climate would differentially affect the structure of communities
from different clades due to between-clade biological variation. We examined 203 communities
using two metrics, the net relatedness (NRI) and nearest taxon (NTI) indices. We
used simultaneous autoregressive models to predict community phylogenetic structure
from climate variables and species richness. We found that most individual communities exhibited
a phylogenetic structure consistent with a null model, but both climate and species
richness significantly predicted variation in community phylogenetic metrics. Using NTI,
species rich communities were composed of more distantly related taxa for all mammal
communities, as well as for communities of carnivorans or ungulates. Temperature seasonality
predicted the phylogenetic structure of mammal, carnivoran, and ungulate communities,
and annual rainfall predicted primate community structure. Additional climate variables
related to temperature and rainfall also predicted the phylogenetic structure of ungulate
communities. We suggest that both past interspecific competition and habitat filtering have
shaped variation in tropical mammal communities. The significant effect of climatic factors
on community structure has important implications for the diversity of mammal communities
given current models of future climate change.
  • Climate,
  • Phylogenetic Structure,
  • Mammals,
  • Africa
Publication Date
Spring April 15, 2015
Citation Information
Jason M Kamilar, Lydia Beaudrot and Kaye Reed. "Climate and Species Richness Predict the Phylogenetic Structure of African Mammal Communities" Public Library of Science One (2015) p. 1 - 16
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Creative Commons license
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons CC_BY International License.