A relatively recent approach to characterizing structure of natural communities is to use phylogenies of species pools to compare patterns of relatedness between real and simulated communities. Such an approach can provide mechanistic insights into structure. Despite popularity of phylogenetic approaches, we do not yet fully understand how phylogenetic community structure (PCS) metrics might be impacted by changes to the phylogeny or community membership data from which they are calculated. We investigate metric sensitivity and examine PCS of bats from the 4 great desert regions of North America. We inferred a phylogeny of the regional species pool to calculate PCS metrics using community membership data delimited using 3 different methods. We also randomized our phylogeny to determine how reasonable changes to the tree affect PCS metrics. Overall, PCS metrics are quite robust to moderate changes in the phylogeny from which they are calculated. These metrics also are fairly insensitive to our 3 methods of delimiting communities. Additionally, we found that in general, communities are significantly phylogenetically clustered, suggesting habitat filtering has been important in community assembly.
- North American bats
- community delimitation
- metric sensitivity
- phylogenetic community structure