ReviewPhylogeny, ecology, and the coupling of comparative and experimental approaches
Recent progress in the development of phylogenetic methods and access to molecular phylogenies has made comparative biology more popular than ever before. However, determining cause and effect in phylogenetic comparative studies is inherently difficult without experimentation and evolutionary replication. Here, we provide a roadmap for linking comparative phylogenetic patterns with ecological experiments to test causal hypotheses across ecological and evolutionary scales. As examples, we consider five cornerstones of ecological and evolutionary research: tests of adaptation, tradeoffs and synergisms among traits, coevolution due to species interactions, trait influences on lineage diversification, and community assembly and composition. Although several scenarios can result in a lack of concordance between historical patterns and contemporary experiments, we argue that the coupling of phylogenetic and experimental methods is an increasingly revealing approach to hypothesis testing in e Read more...
Marjorie G. Weber
Publication date: 2012/07/01