loading page

Reconstructing Ecological Niche Evolution via Ancestral State Reconstruction with Uncertainty Incorporated
  • +8
  • Hannah Owens,
  • Vivian Ribeiro,
  • Erin Saupe,
  • Marlon E. Cobos,
  • Peter Hosner,
  • Jacob Cooper,
  • Abdallah Samy,
  • Vijay Barve,
  • Narayani Barve,
  • Carlos Muñoz,
  • A. Townsend Peterson
Hannah Owens
University of Copenhagen

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Vivian Ribeiro
Stockholm Environment Institute
Author Profile
Erin Saupe
University of Oxford Department of Earth Sciences
Author Profile
Marlon E. Cobos
University of Kansas
Author Profile
Peter Hosner
University of Copenhagen
Author Profile
Jacob Cooper
University of Chicago Committee on Evolutionary Biology
Author Profile
Abdallah Samy
Ain Shams University Faculty of Science
Author Profile
Vijay Barve
University of Florida
Author Profile
Narayani Barve
University of Florida
Author Profile
Carlos Muñoz
Author Profile
A. Townsend Peterson
University of Kansas
Author Profile


Study of species’ ecological niches through evolutionary history can elucidate speciation mechanisms, yet current comparative phylogenetic methods consistently overestimate niche evolution. Here we propose a method by which to characterize species’ fundamental ecological niches for comparative phylogenetic analysis using a bin-based approach that incorporates uncertainty in niche estimates. Simulation analysis using a traditional characterization method (median value calculated from species’ known occurrences) estimated a significantly higher rate of niche evolution than using our proposed method, and differences in rate estimates were consistent regardless of the number of simulated taxa in a phylogeny. We also demonstrate how to perform ancestral state reconstructions under the new coding system; reconstructions are performed for each bin individually, and ancestral fundamental niches inferred by smoothing each node’s reconstructions across all bins. Finally, we provide a worked empirical example of our method, investigating ecological niche evolution in 34 species of New World orioles (Icterus spp.). Ecological niches were generally conserved in the group, and only a few lineages appear to have experienced niche reduction and specialization.
20 Jan 2020Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
21 Jan 2020Submission Checks Completed
21 Jan 2020Assigned to Editor
27 Jan 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
04 Feb 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
06 Apr 20201st Revision Received
08 Apr 2020Submission Checks Completed
08 Apr 2020Assigned to Editor
08 Apr 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
22 Apr 2020Editorial Decision: Accept