Contemporary Ecological Interactions Improve Models of Past Trait Evolution

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

Abstract.—

Despite the fact that natural selection underlies both traits and interactions, evolutionary models often neglect that ecological interactions may, and in many cases do, influence the evolution of traits. Herein, we explore the interdependence of ecological interactions and functional traits in the pollination associations of hawkmoths and flowering plants. Specifically, we develop an adaptation of the Ornstein-Uhlenbeck model of trait evolution that allows us to study the influence of plant corolla depth and observed hawkmoth-plant interactions on the evolution of hawkmoth proboscis length. Across diverse modelling scenarios, we find that the inclusion of contemporary interactions can provide a better description of trait evolution than the null expectation. Moreover, we show that the pollination interactions provide more-likely models of hawkmoth trait evolution when interactions are considered at increasingly fine-scale groups of hawkmoths. Finally, we demonstrate how the results of best-fit modeling approaches can implicitly support the association between interactions and trait evolution that our method explicitly examines. In showing that contemporary interactions can provide insight into the historical evolution of hawkmoth proboscis length, we demonstrate the clear utility of incorporating additional ecological information to models designed to study past trait evolution.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles