Traits, habitats, and clades: Identifying traits of potential importance to environmental filtering

Margaret M. Mayfield, Maciej F. Boni, David D. Ackerly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Environmental filtering is a fundamental process in the ecological assembly of communities. Recently developed phylogenetic tools identify patterns associated with environmental filtering across whole communities. Here we introduce a novel method that allows the detection of traits involved in the environmental filtering of species from specific clades in specific habitat types. Our approach identifies nonindependent trait/habitat/clade (THC) associations and also provides a framework for detecting clearly defined two-way trait/ clade, trait/habitat, and clade/habitat associations. The THC method relies on exact binomial tests and differentiates THC associations resulting from a three-way interaction from those that are generated by one or more underlying significant two-way interactions. It can also detect THC associations for which there are no significant twoway associations (trait/habitat, trait/clade, clade/habitat). To illustrate the THC method, we examine plant pollination and dispersal traits from six habitat types in a fragmented Costa Rican landscape. Results suggest that these traits are not widely important for the environmental filtering of most clades in this landscape, but animal dispersal and insect pollination are involved in the filtering of monocots and the Piperaceae in rain forest understory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1-E22
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Traits, habitats, and clades: Identifying traits of potential importance to environmental filtering'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this