Ecology Letters (2010)
Biogeographical, evolutionary and ecological processes interact to regulate patterns in metacommunities. However, as there are few quantitative methods for evaluating their joint effects, resolving this interaction is difficult. We develop a method that aims to evaluate the interaction between phylogenetic structure, historical biogeographic events and environmental filtering in driving species distributions in a large-scale metacommunity. Using freshwater zooplankton as a case study, we contrast the phylogenetic metacommunity structure of calanoid copepods and an ecologically similar but more vagile group, daphniids, in the northeastern US. We find that legacies of historical biogeographical events have strongly constrained calanoid distributions within this area, but that adaptation to different water chemistry and lake morphology drives the metacommunity structure of daphniids. Our findings show that biogeographic history and metacommunity processes jointly regulate community structure in these lakes and suggest that this also depends on factors that affect the colonization rate of different types of organisms.