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Abstract Detail

Ecological Section

Elliott , Tammy Lynn [1], Waterway, Marcia [2], Davies, T. Jonathan [1].

A community phylogentics approach into determining whether generalists of specialists make better competitors.

Ecological processes at local, regional and continental scales determine the composition of biological communities. Competition and environmental filtering stand out as perhaps the two key processes determining the structure of communities at the local scale despite the fact that a multitude of ecological and evolutionary processes are involved, and individual species respond differently to these two processes. Generalist species, those species that grow in several different habitats, might be more sensitive to competition than specialist species adapted to growth in a narrow range of environments, as specialists must strongly compete with their neighbours to survive, whereas generalists have the ability to survive in a larger range of growing conditions. With the increasing availability of phylogenetic information, new approaches that combine both phylogenetic and ecological methods are improving our ability to distinguish between the relative importance of environmental filtering and competition in determining community composition. In this study, I use a community phylogenetics approach to examine if specialist species are better competitors than generalists. To address these questions, I will first create a regional phylogeny of 51 different sedge species (i.e., plants of the Cyperaceae family) based on sequences from three plastid and two nuclear regions. I will then quantify the phylogenetic structure of these communities with data on the species composition of sedge communities collected around 35 focal species in 700 plots distributed in the boreal-subarctic transitional zone of Quebec. I will create a mean pairwise distance metric and nearest taxon metric and compare these metrics against three different measures of generalism to test if specialist species are more likely to occur with closely-related species, which would indicate that specialists make better competitors than generalists. 

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1 - McGill University, Department of Biology, Stewart Biology Building, 1205 Docteur Penfield, Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1B1, Canada
2 - McGill University, Department of Plant Science, Raymond Building, 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, H9X 3V9, Canada

interspecific competition
specialist species
generalist species
subarctic Canada
Habitat Filtering.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 47
Location: Clearwater/Grove
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Time: 2:30 PM
Number: 47003
Abstract ID:442
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Graduate Student Paper

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