4 years ago

Evolutionary history as a driver of ecological networks: a case study of plant–hummingbird interactions

Jeferson Vizentin-Bugoni, Rômulo Silveira Vitôria, Leandro da Silva Duarte
Multiple factors drive species interactions in ecological networks, such as morphological barriers, spatio–temporal distribution, abundances and evolutionary histories of species. Novel methods are making it possible to evaluate the relative importance of each of these drivers. However, the lack of appropriate methods has prevented evaluating the extent to which interaction networks are shaped by species’ evolutionary histories. This study includes the evolutionary histories of species among the potential drivers of interactions, allowing the comparative analysis of its importance in structuring ecological networks. We hypothesized different possible phylogenetic scenarios to predict frequencies of interactions between species by combining concepts from the fields of ecological networks and ecophylogenetics. The usage of these scenarios is illustrated in a plant-hummingbird interaction network database from the Atlantic Forest, southeastern Brazil. We first evaluated which phylogenetic hypotheses better predict the observed network; subsequently, we evaluated the relative importance of species evolutionary histories, abundances, and matching on species morphologies and phenologies as drivers of their frequencies of interactions. The results suggest that the evolutionary histories of hummingbirds are more important than the species abundances in structuring the studied plant–hummingbird network but less important than the morphological and phenological matching among species. The approach developed here offers the potential to advance our understanding of the multiple factors structuring ecological networks. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/oik.04344

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