Ecological traits influence the phylogenetic structure of bird species co-occurrences worldwide

Jean Yves Barnagaud, W. Daniel Kissling, Brody Sandel, Wolf L. Eiserhardt, Çaǧan H. Şekercioǧlu, Brian J. Enquist, Constantinos Tsirogiannis, Jens Christian Svenning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The extent to which species' ecological and phylogenetic relatedness shape their co-occurrence patterns at large spatial scales remains poorly understood. By quantifying phylogenetic assemblage structure within geographic ranges of >8000 bird species, we show that global co-occurrence patterns are linked - after accounting for regional effects - to key ecological traits reflecting diet, mobility, body size and climatic preference. We found that co-occurrences of carnivorous, migratory and cold-climate species are phylogenetically clustered, whereas nectarivores, herbivores, frugivores and invertebrate eaters tend to be more phylogenetically overdispersed. Preference for open or forested habitats appeared to be independent from the level of phylogenetic clustering. Our results advocate for an extension of the tropical niche conservatism hypothesis to incorporate ecological and life-history traits beyond the climatic niche. They further offer a novel species-oriented perspective on how biogeographic and evolutionary legacies interact with ecological traits to shape global patterns of species coexistence in birds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-820
Number of pages10
JournalEcology letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Diversification
  • Functional traits
  • Geographical range
  • Macroecology
  • Phylogenetic community structure
  • Phylogenetic fields
  • Species coexistence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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