Community Ecology

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 1–9 | Cite as

Recurrent patterns of phylogenetic habitat fltering in woody plant communities across phytogeographically distinct grassland-forest ecotones

  • V. J. DebastianiEmail author
  • S. C. Muller
  • J. M. Oliveira
  • F. S. Rocha
  • M. C. Sestren-Bastos
  • L. D. S. Duarte


The phylogenetic relationship among species may influence the mechanisms controlling local community assembly in ecological time. We analyzed the degree of recurrence of phylogenetic structure patterns in woody plant communities distributed along grassland-forest ecotones, across different vegetation types in southern Brazil, and the effect of phylogenetic pool size used to assess such patterns. Species frequency in quadrats distributed along grassland-forest ecotones was surveyed in different phytogeographic regions, where forests tend to expand over grasslands. We used principal coordinates of phylogenetic structure (PCPS) to evaluate the structure within vegetation quadrats divided into three habitat categories: grassland, forest edge and forest interior. Furthermore, phylogenetic structure measures were computed using different phylogenetic pool sizes. Our analyses showed consistent patterns in relation to habitat categories and to different phylogenetic pool sizes. Basal clades of angiosperms were associated with forest areas, while late-divergence clades were associated with grasslands. These results suggest that grasslands act as phylogenetic habitat filters to forest woody species, independently of species composition at each site and the phylogenetic pool. Rosanae and Asteranae act as vanguards of forest expansion over grasslands, while Magnolianae species tend to be restricted to forest. Our results shed light on the organization of ecological systems, providing evidence of recurrent phylogenetic structure patterns in ecotone plant communities at regional scale.


Community assembly Edge effect Phylogenetic structure Forest expansion Phylogenetic pool Phylogenetic diversity 


The International Plant Names Index 



Principal Coordinates of Phylogenetic Structure


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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2015

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Authors and Affiliations

  • V. J. Debastiani
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. C. Muller
    • 2
  • J. M. Oliveira
    • 3
  • F. S. Rocha
    • 4
  • M. C. Sestren-Bastos
    • 5
  • L. D. S. Duarte
    • 1
  1. 1.Phylogenetic and Functional Ecology LabUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.Porto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  3. 3.Universidade do Vale do Rio dos SinosSão LeopoldoBrazil
  4. 4.Universidade Federal de Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil
  5. 5.Secretaria Municipal do Meio AmbientePorto AlegreBrazil

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