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Is evolution faster at ecotones? A test using rates and tempo of diet transitions in Neotropical Sigmodontinae (Rodentia, Cricetidae)
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  • André Luza,
  • Renan Maestri,
  • Vanderlei Debastiani,
  • Bruce Patterson,
  • Sandra Hartz,
  • Leandro da Silva Duarte
André Luza
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
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Renan Maestri
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
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Vanderlei Debastiani
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul Institute of Biosciences
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Bruce Patterson
Negaunee Integrative Research Center
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Sandra Hartz
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
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Leandro da Silva Duarte
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
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We evaluated whether evolution is faster at ecotones as niche shifts may be needed to persist under unstable environment. We mapped diet evolution along the evolutionary history of 350 sigmodontine species. Mapping was used in three new tip-based metrics of trait evolution–Transition Rates, Stasis Time, and Last Transition Time–which were spatialized at the assemblage level (aTR, aST, aTL). Assemblages were obtained by superimposing range maps on points located at core and ecotone of the 91 South American ecoregions. Using Linear Mixed Models, we tested whether ecotones have species with more changes from the ancestral diet (higher aTR), have maintained the current diet for a shorter time (lower aST) and have more recent transitions to the current diet (lower aLT) than cores. We found higher aTR, aST and aLT at ecotones than at cores. Although ecotones are more heterogeneous, both environmentally and in relation to selection pressures they exert on organisms, ecotone species change little from the ancestral diet as generalist habits are necessary toward feeding in ephemeral environments. The need to incorporate phylogenetic uncertainty in tip-based metrics was evident from large uncertainty detected. Our study integrates ecology and evolution by analyzing how fast trait evolution is across space.

Peer review status:IN REVISION

19 Jun 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
21 Jun 2021Assigned to Editor
21 Jun 2021Submission Checks Completed
24 Jun 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
22 Sep 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
22 Sep 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor