Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 201–213 | Cite as

Species assembly and the evolution of community structure

  • Barry J. Fox
Papers

Summary

In this paper I consider the evolutionary and ecological implications of an assembly rule which was derived empirically from studies on a heathland small-mammal community in south-eastern Australia. This rule has been tested successfully against 52 heathland small-mammal assemblages. Here it is shown to hold also for 80 forest assemblages of small mammals spanning a latitudinal range from 27°S to 43°S in south-eastern Australia. The observed forest communities are predicted by the rule and they deviate significantly from random assemblages. I suggest that the unique evolutionary history of the Australian fauna has made these patterns more apparent. The rule is simply stated as: ‘There is a much higher probability that each species entering a community will be drawn from a different functional group (genus or other taxonomically related group of species with similar diets) until each group is represented, before the cycle repeats’. A theoretical basis for the rule is proposed which extends the niche compression hypothesis to cover evolutionary time. Evolutionary constraints on adaptations for diet selection are greater than those operating on habitat selection. Successful tests in North America for the granivorous desert rodent guild and the mixed-forest insectivore guild support a wider application of this rule than the Australian communities from which it was derived. A speculative model is proposed in which the mechanisms involved in the operation of this rule shape the evolution of community structure.

Keywords

Competition deterministic neutral model niche compression resource limitation 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abramsky, Z. (1978) Small mammal community ecology: changes in species diversity in response to manipulated productivity.Oecologia 34, 113–23.Google Scholar
  2. Archer, M. (1981) Results of the Archbold Expeditions. No. 104. Systematic revision of the marsupial dasyurid genusSminthopsis Thomas.Bull. Amer. Mus. Natur. Hist. 168, 61–244.Google Scholar
  3. Bowers, M. A. and Brown, J. H. (1982) Body size and coexistence in desert rodents: chance or community structure?Ecology 63, 391–400.Google Scholar
  4. Braithwaite, R. W., Cockburn, A. and Lee, A. K. (1978) Resource partitioning by small mammals in lowland heath communities of southeastern Australia.Aust. J. Ecol. 3, 423–45.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, J. H. (1973) Species diversity of seed-eating desert rodents in sand dune habitats.Ecology 54, 775–87.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, J. H. Variation in desert rodent guilds: patterns, processes and scales.Pr. Br. Ecol. Soc., in press.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, W. L. Jr (1958) General adaptation and evolution.Syst. Zool. 7, 157–68.Google Scholar
  8. Cockburn, A. (1978) The distribution ofPseudomys shortridgei (Muridae:rodentia) and its relevance to that of other heathlandPseudomys.Aust. Wildlife Res. 5, 213–20.Google Scholar
  9. Cody, M. L. (1974)Competition and Structure in Bird Communities. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA, 318 pp.Google Scholar
  10. Colwell, R. K. and Winkler, D. W. (1984) A null model for null models in biogeography. InEcological Communities: Conceptual Issues and the Evidence (D. R. Stronget al., eds) pp. 344–59. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA.Google Scholar
  11. Darlington, P. J. (1948) The geographical distribution of cold-blooded vertebrates.Q. Rev. Biol. 23, 1–26, 106–23.Google Scholar
  12. Diamond, J. M. (1975) Assembly of species communities. InEcology and Evolution of Communities (M. L. Cody and J. M. Diamond, eds) pp. 342–444. Belknap Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.Google Scholar
  13. Fox, B. J. (1981) Niche parameters and species diversity.Ecology 62, 1415–25.Google Scholar
  14. Fox, B. J. (1982) A review of dasyurid ecology and speculation on the role of limiting similarity in community organization. InCarnivorous Marsupials (M. Archer, ed.) pp. 97–116. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
  15. Fox, B. J. (1983) Mammal species diversity in Australian heathlands: the importance of pyric succession and habitat diversity. InMediterranean-type Ecosystems: The Role of Nutrients (Kruger, F. J., Mitchell, D. T. and Jarvis, J. U. M., eds) pp. 473–89. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  16. Fox, B. J. (1985) Small mammal communities in Australian temperate heathlands and forests. InNiche Spaces and Small Mammal Communities (Fox, B. J. and Powell, R. A., eds) pp. 153–8.Aust. Mammal. 8.Google Scholar
  17. Fox, B. J. (1988) Small-mammal community pattern in Australian heathland: a taxonomically based rule for species assembly. InPatterns in the Structure of Mammalian Communities (Morris, D. W.et al., eds). (Proceedings of Symposium. Fourth International Theriological Conference.) Texas Tech Museum Special Publications Series, in press.Google Scholar
  18. Fox, B. J. and Archer, E. (1984) The diets ofSminthopsis murina andAntechinus stuartii (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae) in sympatry.Aust. Wildlife Res. 11, 235–48.Google Scholar
  19. Fox, B. J. and Pople, A. R. (1984) Experimental confirmation of interspecific competition between native and introduced mice.Aust. J. Ecol. 9, 323–34.Google Scholar
  20. Futuyma, D. J. (1979)Evolutionary Biology, 565 pp. Sinaur, Sunderland, MA, USA.Google Scholar
  21. Genoways, H. H. and Brown, J. H.Biology of the Heteromyidae (Special Publications No. 10). The American Society of Mammalogists, in press.Google Scholar
  22. Kirkland, G. L. Jr (1985) Soricid communities: structure and niche relationships. Paper presented atSymposium on Biology of Insectivora I, Fourth International Theriological Congress, Edmonton, Canada, 22–25 August.Google Scholar
  23. Lee, A. K., Baverstock, P. R. and Watts, C. H. S. (1981) Rodents — the late invaders. InEcological Biogeography in Australia (Keast, A., ed.) pp. 1523–53. Dr W. Junk, The Hague.Google Scholar
  24. MacArthur, R. H. (1972)Geographical Ecology. Harper and Row, New York.Google Scholar
  25. MacArthur, R. H. and Pianka, E. R. (1966) On optimal use of a patchy environment.Amer. Natur. 100, 603–10.Google Scholar
  26. MacArthur, R. H. and Wilson, E. O. (1967)The Theory of Island Biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA, 203 pp.Google Scholar
  27. M'Closkey, R. T. (1978) Niche separation and assembly in four species of Sonoran Desert rodents.Amer. Natur. 112, 683–94.Google Scholar
  28. Morton, S. R. and Baynes, A. (1985) Small mammal assemblages in arid Australia: a reappraisal. InNiche Spaces and Small Mammal Communities (Fox, B. J. and Powell, R., eds) pp. 159–69.Aust. Mammal. 8.Google Scholar
  29. Pianka, E. R. (1973) The structure of lizard communities.Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst.,4, 53–74.Google Scholar
  30. Strahan, R. (1983)The Australian Museum Complete Book of Australian Mammals. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.Google Scholar
  31. Tamarin, R. H. (1985)Biology of New World. Microtus (Special Publication No. 3). The American Society of Mammalogists.Google Scholar
  32. Tilman, D. (1982)Resource Competition and Community Structure. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA.Google Scholar
  33. Wake, D. B., Roth, G. and Wake, M. H. (1983) On the problem of stasis in organismal evolution.J. Theor. Biol. 101, 211–24.Google Scholar
  34. Wakefield, N. A. (1972) Paleoecology of fossil assemblages from some Australian caves.Pr. Roy. Soc. Vict. 85, 1–26.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry J. Fox
    • 1
  1. 1.School of ZoologyUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia

Personalised recommendations