A network-based approach to identifying correlations between phylogeny, morphological traits and occurrence of fish species in US river basins.


A network-based approach to identifying correlations between phylogeny, morphological traits and occurrence of fish species in US river basins.

Tripathi, R.; Reza, A.; Su, G.; Mertel, A.; Calabrese, J.

The complex network framework has been successfully used to model interactions between entities in Complex Systems in the Biological Sciences such as Proteomics, Genomics, Neuroscience, and Ecology. Networks of organisms at different spatial scales and in different ecosystems have provided insights into
community assembly patterns and emergent properties of ecological systems. In the present work, we investigate two questions pertaining to fish species assembly rules in US river basins, a) if morphologically similar fish species also tend to be phylogenetically closer, and b) to what extent are co-occurring species that are phylogentically close also morphologically similar? For the first question, we construct a network of Hydrologic Unit Code 8 (HUC8) regions as nodes with interaction strengths (edges) governed by the number of common species. For each of the modules of this network, which are found to be geographically separated, there is differential yet significant evidence that phylogenetic distance predicts morphological distance. For the second question, we construct and analyze nearest neighbor directed networks of species based on their morphological distances and phylogenetic distances. Through module detection on these networks and comparing the module-level mean phylogenetic distance and mean morphological distance with the number of basins of common occurrence of species in modules, we find that both phylogeny and morphology of species have significant roles in governing species co-occurrence, i.e. phylogenetically and morphologically distant species tend to co-exist more. In addition, between the two quantities (morphological distance and phylogentic distance), we find that morphological distance is a stronger determinant of species co-occurrences

Keywords: Complex Networks; Phylogenetic Distance; Morphological Traits; Species Co-occurrence

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