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Community assembly, functional traits and phylogeny in Himalayan river birds
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  • Ankita Sinha,
  • Nilanjan Chatterjee,
  • Ramesh Krishnamurthy,
  • Stephen Ormerod
Ankita Sinha
Wildlife Institute of India

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Nilanjan Chatterjee
Wildlife Institute of India
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Ramesh Krishnamurthy
Wildlife Institute of India
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Stephen Ormerod
Cardiff University
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Heterogeneity in riverine habitats acts as a template for species evolution that influences river communities at different spatio-temporal scales. Although birds are conspicuous elements of these communities, the roles of phylogeny, functional traits and habitat character in their niche-use or species’ assembly have seldom been investigated. We explored these themes by surveying multiple headwaters over 3000 m of elevation in the Himalayan Mountains of India where specialist river birds reach their greatest diversity on Earth. After ordinating community composition, species traits and habitat character, we investigated whether river-bird traits varied with elevation in ways that were constrained or independent of phylogeny, hypothesising that trait patterns reflect environmental filtering. Community composition and trait representation varied strongly with elevation and river naturalness as species that foraged in the river/riparian ecotone gave way to small insectivores with obligate links to the river channel. These trends were influenced strongly by phylogeny as communities became more clustered by functional traits at higher elevation. Phylogenetic signals varied among traits, however, and were reflected in body mass, bill size and tarsus length more than in body size, tail length and breeding strategy. These variations imply that community assembly in high altitude river birds reflects a blend of phylogenetic constraint and habitat filtering coupled with some proximate niche-based moulding of trait character. We suggest that the regional co-existence of river birds in the Himalaya is facilitated by the same array of factors that together reflect the highly heterogeneous template of river habitats provided by these mountain headwaters.
20 Jan 2022Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
20 Jan 2022Submission Checks Completed
20 Jan 2022Assigned to Editor
03 Feb 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
09 Mar 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
28 Mar 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
12 May 20221st Revision Received
13 May 2022Submission Checks Completed
13 May 2022Assigned to Editor
13 May 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
18 May 2022Editorial Decision: Accept
Jun 2022Published in Ecology and Evolution volume 12 issue 6. 10.1002/ece3.9012