• assembly rules;
  • species distribution;
  • null model analysis;
  • guild structure;
  • community ecology


Diamond (Assembly of species communities. In: Cody ML, Diamond JM, editors. Ecology and evolution of communities. Cambridge: Belknap. p 342–444 (1975)) argued that interspecific competition between species occupying similar niches results in a nonrandom pattern of species distributions. In particular, some species pairs may never be found in the same community due to competitive exclusion. Rigorous analytical methods have been developed to investigate the possible role that interspecific competition has on the evolution of communities. Many studies that have implemented these methods have shown support for Diamond's assembly rules, yet there are numerous exceptions. We build on this previous research by examining the co-occurrence patterns of primate species in 109 communities from across the world. We used EcoSim to calculate a checkerboard (C) score for each region. The C score provides a measure of the proportion of species pairs that do not co-occur in a set of communities. High C scores indicate that species are nonrandomly distributed throughout a region, and interspecific competition may be driving patterns of competitive exclusion. We conducted two sets of analyses. One included all primate species per region, and the second analysis assigned each species to one of four dietary guilds: frugivores, folivores, insectivores, and frugivore-insectivores. Using all species per region, we found significantly high C scores in 9 of 10 regions examined. For frugivores, we found significantly high-C scores in more than 50% of regions. In contrast, only 23% of regions exhibited significantly high-C scores for folivores. Our results suggest that communities are nonrandomly structured and may be the result of greater levels of interspecific competition between frugivores compared to folivores. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.