How does a community’s evolutionary history influence its contemporary patterns? Phylogenetic ecology has begun to explore this question but often with a focus on phylogenies as proxies for functional traits. I am building a statistical theory of phylogenetic community structure based on the Maximum Entropy Theory of Ecology (METE). The predictiveness of this new theory can be compared to METE providing a test of whether the evolutionary history contained in a phylogeny is important in determining community structure (i.e. it is important if phylo-METE outperforms METE). Phylo-METE can also be seen as a rigorous null theory against which to test observed patterns of phylogenetic community structure to evaluate whether mechanisms such as environmental filtering and limiting similarity can be implicated in the assembly of a given community.
Collaborators: John Harte