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Phylogenetic niche conservatism, phylogenetic signal



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Ecology Letters 2008 11 995 1007 IDEA AND PERSPECTIVE Jonathan B Losos Museum of Comparative Zoology and Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Harvard University 26 Oxford Street Cambridge MA 02138 USA Correspondence E mail jlosos oeb harvard edu doi 10 1111 j 1461 0248 2008 01229 x Phylogenetic niche conservatism phylogenetic signal and the relationship between phylogenetic relatedness and ecological similarity among species Abstract Ecologists are increasingly adopting an evolutionary perspective and in recent years the idea that closely related species are ecologically similar has become widespread In this regard phylogenetic signal must be distinguished from phylogenetic niche conservatism Phylogenetic niche conservatism results when closely related species are more ecologically similar that would be expected based on their phylogenetic relationships its occurrence suggests that some process is constraining divergence among closely related species In contrast phylogenetic signal refers to the situation in which ecological similarity between species is related to phylogenetic relatedness this is the expected outcome of Brownian motion divergence and thus is necessary but not sufficient evidence for the existence of phylogenetic niche conservatism Although many workers consider phylogenetic niche conservatism to be common a review of case studies indicates that ecological and phylogenetic similarities often are not related Consequently ecologists should not assume that phylogenetic niche conservatism exists but rather should empirically examine the extent to which it occurs Keywords Phylogenetic effect phylogenetic niche conservatism phylogenetic signal Ecology Letters 2008 11 995 1007 INTRODUCTION species of the same genus have usually though by no means invariably some similarity in habits and constitution Darwin 1859 p 76 In the last decade ecologists increasingly have become interested in the extent to which Darwin was correct that closely related



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