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Title: Environmental filtering and convergent evolution determine the ecological specialisation of subterranean spiders
Author: Mammola, Stefano
Arnedo Lombarte, Miquel Àngel
Fiser, Cene
Cardoso, Pedro
John Dejanaz, Andrea
Isaia, Marco
Keywords: Aràcnids
Ecologia animal
Animal ecology
Issue Date: 9-Jan-2020
Publisher: Wiley
Abstract: Ecological specialization is an important mechanism enhancing species coexistence within a given community. Yet, unravelling the effect of multiple selective evolutionary and ecological factors leading the process of specialization remains a key challenge in ecology. Subterranean habitats provide highly replicated experimental arenas in which to disentangle the relative contribution of evolutionary history (convergent evolution vs. character displacement) and ecological setting (environmental filtering vs. competitive exclusion) in driving community assembly. We tested alternative hypotheses about the emergence of ecological specialization using the radiation of a lineage of sheet‐weaver cave‐dwelling spiders as model system. We observed that at the local scale, a differential specialization to cave microhabitats generally parallels moderate levels of morphological similarity and close phylogenetic relatedness among species. Conversely, geographic distance contributed little in explaining microhabitat occupation, possibly mirroring a limited role of competitive exclusion. Yet, compared to non‐coexisting species, co‐occurring species adapted to different microhabitats showed lower morphological niche overlap (i.e. higher dissimilarity) and deeper genetic distance. The framework here developed suggests that in the subterranean domain, habitat specialization is primarily driven by environmental filtering, secondarily by convergent evolution, and only marginally by character displacement or competitive exclusion. This pattern results in the establishment of replicated communities across geographical space, composed by ecologically equivalent species. Such process of community assembly well explains the numerous adaptive radiations observed in subterranean habitats, an eco‐evolutionary pattern well documented in oceanic islands or mountain summit communities.
Note: Versió postprint del document publicat a:
It is part of: Functional Ecology, 2020, vol. 34, p. 1064-1077
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ISSN: 0269-8463
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals)

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