Hubert, N., Calcagno, V., Etienne, R.S. and Mouquet N. (2015).

Ecology Letters, 18, 864-881, doi:10.1111/ele.12458

Key message : By acknowledging the relative contribution of local and regional dynamics in shaping the complexity of ecological communities, metacommunity theory sheds a new light on the mechanisms underlying the emergence of species. Here, we use the metacommunity theory framework to emphasise that: (1) studies on speciation and community ecology have converged towards similar general principles by acknowledging the central role of dispersal in metacommunities dynamics, (2) considering the conditions of emergence and maintenance of new species in communities has given rise to new models of speciation embedded in the metacommunity theory, (3) studies of diversification have shifted from relating phylogenetic patterns to landscapes spatial and ecological characteristics towards integrative approaches that explicitly consider speciation in a mechanistic ecological framework. We highlight several challenges, in particular the need for a better integration of the eco-evolutionary consequences of dispersal and the need to increase our understanding on the relative rates of evolutionary and ecological changes in communities.

Landscape physical (A) and environmental (B) characteristics, life history traits (C) and associated conceptual frameworks in ecology and evolution. Species composition within and among communities can be determined by ecological and evolutionary consequences of demographic stochasticity (A), habitat filtering and competition for resources (B) and life history trade-offs (C). (A) In ecologically homogeneous landscapes hosting functionally equivalent species, species abundance in patches is determined by demographic stochasticity and genomic incompatibilities promoting reproductive isolation among populations. (B) In landscapes with environmental heterogeneity, species compete to use resources according to their niche and reproductive isolation results from adaptive shifts in traits defining ecological niches. (C) In landscapes where competitive interactions limit species coexistence on similar resources, species co-occurrence is driven by life history trade-off dynamics and reproductive isolation results from adaptive shifts in the trade-off space. Grids and circles in A1, B1 and C1 represent patches and populations, respectively. Arrows in C1 represent dispersal abilities.

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OTHER TOPICS: Aesthetics of Biodiversity, Biodiversity & Ecosystem Functioning, Biogeography, Macroecology & Ecophylogenetics, Experimental Evolution, Functional Biogeography, Functional Rarity, Metacommunities, Metaecosystems, Reviews and Synthesis, Trophic Biogeography & Metaweb