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Keywords:

  • Araucaria forest;
  • comparative methods;
  • K statistic;
  • Mantel test;
  • phylogenetic eigenvector regression;
  • phylogeny;
  • polytomies

Abstract

Understanding how species traits evolved over time is the central question to comprehend assembly rules that govern the phylogenetic structure of communities. The measurement of phylogenetic signal (PS) in ecologically relevant traits is a first step to understand phylogenetically structured community patterns. The different methods available to estimate PS make it difficult to choose which is most appropriate. Furthermore, alternative phylogenetic tree hypotheses, node resolution and clade age estimates might influence PS measurements. In this study, we evaluated to what extent these parameters affect different methods of PS analysis, and discuss advantages and disadvantages when selecting which method to use. We measured fruit/seed traits and flowering/fruiting phenology of endozoochoric species occurring in Southern Brazilian Araucaria forests and evaluated their PS using Mantel regressions, phylogenetic eigenvector regressions (PVR) and K statistic. Mantel regressions always gave less significant results compared to PVR and K statistic in all combinations of phylogenetic trees constructed. Moreover, a better phylogenetic resolution affected PS, independently of the method used to estimate it. Morphological seed traits tended to show higher PS than diaspores traits, while PS in flowering/fruiting phenology depended mostly on the method used to estimate it. This study demonstrates that different PS estimates are obtained depending on the chosen method and the phylogenetic tree resolution. This finding has implications for inferences on phylogenetic niche conservatism or ecological processes determining phylogenetic community structure.