Ecological Society of America
Niche differences are key to understanding the distribution and structure of biodiversity. To examine niche differences, we must first characterize how species occupy niche space, and two approaches are commonly used in the ecological literature. The first uses species traits to estimate multivariate trait space (so‐called functional trait diversity, FD); the second quantifies the amount of time or evolutionary history captured by a group of species (phylogenetic diversity, PD). It is often—but controversially—assumed that these putative measures of niche space are at a minimum correlated and perhaps redundant, since more evolutionary time allows for greater accumulation of trait changes. This theoretical expectation remains surprisingly poorly evaluated, particularly in the context of multivariate measures of trait diversity. We evaluated the relationship between phylogenetic diversity and trait diversity using analytical and simulation‐based methods across common models of trait evolution. We show that PD correlates with FD increasingly strongly as more traits are included in the FD measure. Our results indicate that phylogenetic diversity can be a useful surrogate for high‐dimensional trait diversity, but we also show that the correlation weakens when the underlying process of trait evolution includes variation in rate and optima.
Tucker, C. M., Davies, T. J., Cadotte, M. W. and Pearse, W. D. (2018), On the relationship between phylogenetic diversity and trait diversity. Ecology, 99: 1473-1479. doi:10.1002/ecy.2349