Patterns in biodiversity and species coexistence are the result of multiple interacting processes including evolutionary history, trait variation, species interactions, dispersal, environmental variation, and landscape heterogeneity. Exploring patterns of biodiversity across space is perhaps the best integrative method (in contrast to the scarcity of temporal data) to interpret the influence of these multiple and interactive effects in determining community assembly, but it is still underdeveloped. Two emerging fields, metacommunity ecology and community phylogenetics, have been making relevant, though rather independent, progress toward understanding how communities are assembled in space. Our main goals were twofold. First, we described a heuristical framework to merge these two fields into "metacommunity phylogenetics." The main goal of this framework is to provide a way to think about how niche properties of species arranged across the environment and different spatial scales influence the process of community assembly. Second, we developed an analytical framework to link niche properties based on trait and phylogenetics to environmental and spatial variation. In order to assess the performance of the framework, we used extensive computer simulations of community assembly to show that the procedure is robust under a variety of scenarios.
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