Shifts in species interactions due to the evolution of functional differences between endemics and non-endemics: An endemic syndrome hypothesis

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Abstract

Species ranges have been shifting since the Pleistocene, whereby fragmentation, isolation, and the subsequent reduction in gene flow have resulted in local adaptation of novel genotypes and the repeated evolution of endemic species. While there is a wide body of literature focused on understanding endemic species, very few studies empirically test whether or not the evolution of endemics results in unique function or ecological differences relative to their widespread congeners; in particular while controlling for environmental variation. Using a common garden composed of 15 Eucalyptus species within the subgenus Symphyomyrtus (9 endemic to Tasmania, 6 non-endemic), here we hypothesize and show that endemic species are functionally and ecologically different from non-endemics. Compared to non-endemics, endemic Eucalyptus species have a unique suite of functional plant traits that have extended effects on herbivores. We found that while endemics occupy many diverse habitats, they share similar functional traits potentially resulting in an endemic syndrome of traits. This study provides one of the first empirical datasets analyzing the functional differences between endemics and non-endemics in a common garden setting, and establishes a foundation for additional studies of endemic/non-endemic dynamics that will be essential for understanding global biodiversity in the midst of rapid species extinctions and range shifts as a consequence of global change.

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Gorman, C. E., Potts, B. M., Schweitzer, J. A., & Bailey, J. K. (2014). Shifts in species interactions due to the evolution of functional differences between endemics and non-endemics: An endemic syndrome hypothesis. PLoS ONE, 9(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0111190

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