Convergence, divergence, and homogenization in the ecological structure of emydid turtle communities: The effects of phylogeny and dispersal

Patrick R. Stephens, John J. Wiens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


Studies that have explored the origins of patterns of community structure from a phylogenetic perspective have generally found either convergence (similarity) in community structure between regions through adaptive evolution or lack of convergence (dissimilarity) due to phylogenetic conservatism in the divergent ecological characteristics of lineages inhabiting different regions. We used a phylogenetic approach to document a third pattern in the structure of emydid turtle communities. Emydid communities in southeastern North America tend to have a higher proportion of aquatic species than those in the northeast. This pattern reflects phylogenetic conservatism in the ecology and biogeography of two basal emydid clades, limiting convergence in community structure between these regions. However, differences in community structure between northeastern and southeastern North America have also been homogenized considerably by the dispersal of species with phylogenetically conserved ecological characteristics between regions. This pattern of ecologically conservative dispersal may be important in many continental and oceanic systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-254
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2004
Externally publishedYes



  • Biogeography
  • Community ecology
  • Community structure
  • Convergence
  • Dispersal
  • Emydidae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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