Using phylogenies in community ecology is now commonplace, but typically, studies assume and test for a single common phylogenetic signal for all species in a community, at a given scale. A possibility that remains little-explored is that species differing in demographic or ecological attributes, or facing different selective pressures, show different community phylogenetic patterns, even within the same communities. Here I compare community phylogenetic patterns for fire-killed and fire-resistant Banksia species in the fire-prone shrublands of southwest Australia.
Using new Bayesian phylogenies of Banksia, together with ecological trait data and abundance data from 24 field sites, I find that fire regeneration mode influences the phylogenetic and phenotypic signal of species co-occurrence patterns. Fire-killed species (reseeders) show patterns of phylogenetic and phenotypic repulsion consistent with competition-driven niche differentiation, but there are no such patterns for fire-resistant species (resprouters). For pairs of species that differ in fire response, co-occurrence is mediated by environmental filtering based on similarity in edaphic preferences.
These results suggest that it may be simplistic to characterize an entire community by a single structuring process, such as competition or environmental filtering. For this reason, community analyses based on pairwise species co-occurrence patterns may be more informative than those based on whole-community structure metrics.
Keywords: Coexistence, Competition, Co-occurrence matrix, Phylogenetic community ecology, Phylogenetic conservatism, Regeneration strategy, Southwestern Australia