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Proc Biol Sci. 2008 Jul 7;275(1642):1549-56. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.0262.

Global patterns in the phylogenetic structure of island mammal assemblages.

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Division of Biology, Imperial College, Silwood Park, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK.


Assemblage-level phylogenies carry the signature of ecological and evolutionary processes, which may provide useful information on modes of assemblage formation. We present a global-scale analysis of the emergent phylogenetic properties of mammal assemblages on islands, in which we compared the structure of 595 island assemblages with null models constructed under four alternative definitions of regional source pools. Although most assemblages had a structure indistinguishable from random samples, for some mammal taxa, up to 40% of island assemblages were phylogenetically overdispersed. This suggests that in at least some cases, the processes that shape island faunas are not independent of phylogeny. Furthermore, measures of phylogenetic structure were associated in some cases with island geographical features (size, maximum elevation and habitat diversity). Our results suggest that part of the signal of assemblage formation processes is detectable in the phylogenies of contemporary island mammal faunas, though much is obscured by the complexity of these processes.

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