Weak phylogenetic signal for specialisation in antagonistic liana–tree networks

<div><p><b><i>Background</i></b>: Antagonistic interactions, such as parasitism and herbivory, are generally specialised and have a strong phylogenetic signal for specialisation. As lianas and trees interact antagonistically, we expect to find phylogenetic signal for specialisation.</p><p><b><i>Aims</i></b>: We aimed to answer the following questions: (1) Is the liana–tree network specialised? (2) Is the specialisation of liana–tree network related to the abundance of both the life forms? (3) Is liana and tree specialisation related to species phylogeny? (4) Do phylogenetically related liana species occupy phylogenetically related tree species, and vice versa?</p><p><b><i>Methods</i></b>: For three areas in southern Brazil, we calculated the specialisation value of each liana and tree species (<i>d</i>') and of the entire network (<i>H</i><sub>2</sub>′). Binomial regression and null models were used to test the role of abundance on <i>d</i>' and <i>H</i><sub>2</sub>′, respectively. We searched for the presence of phylogenetic signal with phylogenetic independent contrasts for <i>d</i>'. We also compared the similarity of species sets and their interaction with phylogenetic distance between them using Mantel test.</p><p><b><i>Results</i></b>: All three networks had significant values of <i>H</i><sub>2</sub>′, but the values of <i>d</i>' did not have significant phylogenetic signals. Closely related lianas did not share similar host-tree assemblages and vice versa. Rare species were more specialised than abundant species, and abundance did not influence <i>H</i><sub>2</sub>′.</p><p><b><i>Conclusions</i></b>: Our study indicates that the significant <i>H</i><sub>2</sub>′ may be due to co-evolution in some lineages of lianas and trees. Nevertheless, the abundance of species may also play an important role in species interaction, mainly rare species.</p></div>