Deterministic assembly and anthropogenic extinctions drive convergence of island bird communities

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Kostas A. Triantis
  • Francois Rigal
  • Robert J. Whittaker
  • Julian P. Hume
  • Catherine Sheard
  • Dimitrios Poursanidis
  • Jonathan Rolland
  • Spyros Sfenthourakis
  • Thomas J. Matthews
  • Christophe Thébaud
  • Joseph A. Tobias

Aim: Whether entire communities of organisms converge towards predictable structural properties in similar environmental conditions remains controversial. We tested for community convergence in birds by comparing the structure of oceanic archipelago assemblages with their respective regional species pools. Location: Eighteen major oceanic archipelagos of volcanic origin with global distribution. Major taxa studied: Terrestrial birds. Methods: We compiled a comprehensive database of morphological trait and phylogenetic data for 6,579 bird species, including species known to have become extinct owing to human activities. We quantified morphological and phylogenetic dissimilarity among species between pairs of archipelagos, using a modified version of the mean nearest taxon distance. We tested for convergence by estimating whether overall mean turnover among archipelagos and pairwise turnover between archipelagos were lower than expected by chance. Results: For all land birds, we found that turnover in body plan, body mass and phylogeny among archipelagos was significantly lower than expected. Seventeen (of 18) archipelagos showed significant body plan and phylogenetic similarity with at least one other archipelago. Similar convergent patterns of community assembly were detected in different subsamples of the data (extant species, endemics, native non-endemics, and Passeriformes only). Convergence was more pronounced for extant species than for extant and extinct species combined. Main conclusions: Consistent convergence in phylogenetic and morphological structure among archipelagic communities arises through a combination of non-random colonization and in situ adaptation. In addition, by including data from extinct taxa, we show that community convergence both precedes and is accentuated by the anthropogenic extinction of endemic lineages. Our results highlight the potential role of non-random extinction in generating patterns of community convergence and show that convergence existed even before anthropogenic extinctions, owing to deterministic community assembly in similar environmental settings at the global scale.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Number of pages15
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

    Research areas

  • birds, community assembly, convergence, determinism, extinct species, historical contingency, island biogeography, morphological traits, oceanic archipelagos

ID: 311598977