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R Soc Open Sci. 2016 Aug 10;3(8):160117. eCollection 2016 Aug.

Divergent morphological and acoustic traits in sympatric communities of Asian barbets.

Author information

1
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences , Johns Hopkins University , Baltimore, MD 21218 , USA.
2
National Centre for Biological Sciences , Tata Institute of Fundamental Research , GKVK Campus, Bangalore 560065, Karnataka , India.

Abstract

The opposing effects of environmental filtering and competitive interactions may influence community assembly and coexistence of related species. Competition, both in the domain of ecological resources, and in the sensory domain (for example, acoustic interference) may also result in sympatric species evolving divergent traits and niches. Delineating these scenarios within communities requires understanding trait distributions and phylogenetic structure within the community, as well as patterns of trait evolution. We report that sympatric assemblages of Asian barbets (frugivorous canopy birds) consist of a random phylogenetic sample of species, but are divergent in both morphological and acoustic traits. Additionally, we find that morphology is more divergent than expected under Brownian evolution, whereas vocal frequency evolution is close to the pattern expected under Brownian motion (i.e. a random walk). Together, these patterns are consistent with a role for competition or competitive exclusion in driving community assembly. Phylogenetic patterns of morphological divergence between related species suggest that these traits are key in species coexistence. Because vocal frequency and size are correlated in barbets, we therefore hypothesize that frequency differences between sympatric barbets are a by-product of their divergent morphologies.

KEYWORDS:

acoustic signal; barbets; community assembly; morphological traits; niche divergence

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