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Durham University

Department of Biosciences

Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Jonathan Drury

Drury, J.P., Clavel, J., Manceau, M. & Morlon, H. (2016). Estimating the effect of competition on trait evolution using maximum likelihood inference. Systematic Biology 65(4): 700-710.

Author(s) from Durham


Many classical ecological and evolutionary theoretical frameworks posit that competition between species is an important selective force. For example, in adaptive radiations, resource competition between evolving lineages plays a role in driving phenotypic diversification and exploration of novel ecological space. Nevertheless, current models of trait evolution fit to phylogenies and comparative data sets are not designed to incorporate the effect of competition. The most advanced models in this direction are diversity-dependent models where evolutionary rates depend on lineage diversity. However, these models still treat changes in traits in one branch as independent of the value of traits on other branches, thus ignoring the effect of species similarity on trait evolution. Here, we consider a model where the evolutionary dynamics of traits involved in interspecific interactions are influenced by species similarity in trait values and where we can specify which lineages are in sympatry. We develop a maximum likelihood based approach to fit this model to combined phylogenetic and phenotypic data. Using simulations, we demonstrate that the approach accurately estimates the simulated parameter values across a broad range of parameter space. Additionally, we develop tools for specifying the biogeographic context in which trait evolution occurs. In order to compare models, we also apply these biogeographic methods to specify which lineages interact sympatrically for two diversity-dependent models. Finally, we fit these various models to morphological data from a classical adaptive radiation (Greater Antillean Anolis lizards). We show that models that account for competition and geography perform better than other models. The matching competition model is an important new tool for studying the influence of interspecific interactions, in particular competition, on phenotypic evolution. More generally, it constitutes a step toward a better integration of interspecific interactions in many ecological and evolutionary processes.