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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

Ecological processes we observe in the present are deeply influenced by evolutionary processes in the past. Where and when species evolved has important consequences for the characteristics of organisms (their functional traits). Traits, in turn, influence community organization and can mediate flows of energy and nutrients through ecosystems. Thus, the evolutionary (phylogenetic) history of species influences the structure and function of natural communities, mediated by traits. The scale dependency of community structure on phylogenetic history is poorly understood, and the influence of history on ecosystem processes is largely unexplored. To better understand how the past influences the present and the scale-dependency of these influences, the working group will undertake a large-scale synthesis of the connections among phylogenetic history, plant traits, community organization and ecosystem processes throughout the major biomes of North America. Through multi-scale analyses, we seek to advance understanding of the extent to which the evolutionary history of organisms influences community organization and drives ecosystem processes. Because ecosystems both drive and respond to global changes, this question is a unifying theme for biology in the 21st century.

Principal Investigator(s)

Jeannine M. Cavender-Bares, David D. Ackerly, J. Gordon Burleigh, Michelle C. Mack, Richard H. Ree, Peter B. Reich

Project Dates

Start: January 1, 2008

End: December 31, 2009



David D. Ackerly
University of California, Berkeley
Cecile M. Ane
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Jeremy Beaulieu
Yale University
J. Gordon Burleigh
National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)
Marc W. Cadotte
University of California, Santa Barbara
Jeannine M. Cavender-Bares
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Cathy Collins
University of Kansas
Kendi F. Davies
University of Colorado, Boulder
T. Jonathan Davies
University of California, Santa Barbara
Nicholas J. Deacon
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Steven Declerck
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Michael J. Donoghue
Yale University
Erika J. Edwards
Brown University
Paul V. A. Fine
University of California, Berkeley
Matthew R. Helmus
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Robert D. Holt
University of Florida
Dawn Kaufman
Claremont Colleges
Steven W. Kembel
University of California, Berkeley
Clarence L. Lehman
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Jeremy W. Lichstein
Princeton University
Michelle McMahon
University of Arizona
Todd H. Oakley
University of California, Santa Barbara
Richard H. Ree
Field Museum of Natural History
Patrick R. Stephens
University of California, Santa Barbara
George D. Weiblen
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Peter Wragg
University of Minnesota


  1. Journal Article / 2012

    Synthesizing phylogenetic knowledge for ecological research

  2. Journal Article / 2012

    Effects of competition on phylogenetic signal and phenotypic plasticity in plant functional traits

  3. Journal Article / 2012

    Phylogenetic diversity promotes ecosystem stability

  4. Presentations / 2007

    Comparative methods

  5. Presentations / 2007

    Linking phylogenetic history, plant traits and environmental gradients in time and space

  6. Presentations / 2007

    Linking plant traits and ecophylogenetics

  7. Presentations / 2008

    Linking phylogenetic history, plant traits and environmental gradients in time and space

  8. Presentations / 2008

    Linking phylogenetic history, plant traits and environmental gradients in time and space

  9. Journal Article / 2009

    The merging of community ecology and phylogenetic biology

  10. Journal Article / 2012

    Introduction to the special issue on Integrating ecology and phylogenetics: The footprint of history in modern-day communities

  11. Journal Article / 2012

    Shocks to the system: Community assembly of the oak savanna in a 40-year fire frequency experiment

  12. Software /

    EcoPhyl; C- based program, open source, for ecophylogenetic analysis of community data using relatedness of species, traits, and environmental gradients

  13. Journal Article / 2010

    Native communities determine the identity of exotic invaders even at scales at which communities are unsaturated

  14. Journal Article / 2012

    Using phylogenetic trees to test for character displacement: A model and an example from a desert mammal community

  15. Journal Article / 2012

    Floral diversity and community structure in Pedicularis (Orobanchaceae)

  16. Journal Article / 2012

    Niche evolution across spatial scales: Climate and habitat specialization in California Lasthenia Asteraceae

  17. Journal Article / 2012

    Untangling the influence of ecological and evolutionary factors on trait variation across hummingbird assemblages

  18. Journal Article / 2012

    Phylogenetic diversity-area curves

  19. Software / 2008

    Picante: Tools for integrating phylogenies and ecology, R package, version 0.4-0

  20. Journal Article / 2010

    Picante: R tools for integrating phylogenies and ecology

  21. Journal Article / 2012

    Phylogenetic and functional characteristics of household yard floras and their changes along an urbanization gradient

  22. Journal Article / 2012

    Phylogeny, ecology, and the origins of climate-richness relationships

  23. Journal Article / 2012

    Herbivory, growth rates, and habitat specialization in tropical tree lineages: Implications for Amazon beta-diversity

  24. Journal Article / 2012

    Demographic drivers of successional changes in phylogenetic structure across life-history stages in plant communities

  25. Journal Article / 2012

    Assessing the effects of spatial contingency and environmental filtering on metacommunity phylogenetics

  26. Software /

    Phylografter: Collaborative web-based software for phylogenetic tree assembly

  27. Data Set / 2008

    USA Bailey's Ecoregions polygon map and R script for grid sampling

  28. Journal Article / 2012

    Habitat specialization and the role of trait lability in structuring diverse willow family genus Salix communities

  29. Journal Article / 2012

    Phylogenetic and functional alpha and beta diversity in temperate and tropical tree communities

  30. Journal Article / 2008

    Phylocom: Software for the analysis of phylogenetic community structure and trait evolution

  31. Software / 2008

    Phylocom: Software for the analysis of phylogenetic community structure and trait evolution

  32. Journal Article / 2012

    Predicting tropical insect herbivore abundance from host plant traits and phylogeny