Phylogenetic diversity and co-evolutionary signals among trophic levels change across a habitat edge

Guadalupe Peralta, Carol M. Frost, Raphael K. Didham, Arvind Varsani, Jason M. Tylianakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Incorporating the evolutionary history of species into community ecology enhances understanding of community composition, ecosystem functioning and responses to environmental changes. Phylogenetic history might partly explain the impact of fragmentation and land-use change on assemblages of interacting organisms and even determine potential cascading effects across trophic levels. However, it remains unclear whether phylogenetic diversity of basal resources is reflected at higher trophic levels in the food web. In particular, phylogenetic determinants of community structure have never been incorporated into habitat edge studies, even though edges are recognized as key factors affecting communities in fragmented landscapes. Here, we test whether phylogenetic diversity at different trophic levels (plants, herbivores and parasitoids) and signals of co-evolution (i.e. phylogenetic congruence) among interacting trophic levels change across an edge gradient between native and plantation forests. To ascertain whether there is a signal of co-evolution across trophic levels, we test whether related consumer species generally feed on related resource species. We found differences across trophic levels in how their phylogenetic diversity responded to the habitat edge gradient. Plant and native parasitoid phylogenetic diversity changed markedly across habitats, while phylogenetic variability of herbivores (which were predominantly native) did not change across habitats, though phylogenetic evenness declined in plantation interiors. Related herbivore species did not appear to feed disproportionately on related plant species (i.e. there was no signal of co-evolution) even when considering only native species, potentially due to the high trophic generality of herbivores. However, related native parasitoid species tended to feed on related herbivore species, suggesting the presence of a co-evolutionary signal at higher trophic levels. Moreover, this signal was stronger in plantation forests, indicating that this habitat may impose stresses on parasitoids that constrain them to attack only host species for which they are best adapted. Overall, changes in land use across native to plantation forest edges differentially affected phylogenetic diversity across trophic levels, and may also exert a strong selective pressure for particular co-evolved herbivore-parasitoid interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-372
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Co-evolution
  • Food web
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • ParaFit
  • Phylogeny
  • Phylomatic edge effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'Phylogenetic diversity and co-evolutionary signals among trophic levels change across a habitat edge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this