Dispersal assembly of rain forest tree communities across the Amazon basin

Dexter et al. 2017. PNAS. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1613655114 

We investigate patterns of historical assembly of tree communities across Amazonia using a newly developed phylogeny for the speciesrich neotropical tree genus Inga. We compare our results with those for three other ecologically important, diverse, and abundant Amazonian tree lineages, Swartzia, Protieae, and Guatteria. Our analyses using phylogenetic diversity metrics demonstrate a clear lack of geographic phylogenetic structure, and show that local communities of Inga and regional communities of all four lineages are assembled by dispersal across Amazonia. The importance of dispersal in the biogeography of Inga and other tree genera in Amazonian and Guianan rain forests suggests that speciation is not driven by vicariance, and that allopatric isolation following dispersal may be involved in the speciation process. A clear implication of these results is that over evolutionary timescales, the metacommunity for any local or regional tree community in the Amazon is the entire Amazon basin.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith