As better phylogenetic hypotheses become available for many groups of organisms, studies in community ecology can be informed by knowledge of the evolutionary relationships among coexisting species. We note three primary approaches to integrating phylogenetic information into studies of community organization: 1. examining the phylogenetic structure of community assemblages, 2. exploring the phylogenetic basis of community niche structure, and 3. adding a community context to studies of trait evolution and biogeography. We recognize a common pattern of phylogenetic conservatism in ecological character and highlight the challenges of using phylogenies of partial lineages. We also review phylogenetic approaches to three emergent properties of communities: species diversity, relative abundance distributions, and range sizes. Methodological advances in phylogenetic supertree construction, character reconstruction, null models for community assembly and character evolution, and metrics of community phylogenetic structure underlie the recent progress in these areas. We highlight the potential for community ecologists to benefit from phylogenetic knowledge and suggest several avenues for future research.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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