Variation in microbial species diversity has typically been explained as the outcome of local ecological factors driving species coexistence, overlooking the roles of evolutionary constraints. Here, we argue that macro-evolutionary niche conservatism and unequal diversification rates among phylum-level lineages are strong determinants of diversity–environment relationships in bacterial systems. That is, apart from stochasticity, environmental effects operate most strongly on phylum composition, which in turn dictates the species diversity of bacterial communities. This concept is demonstrated using bacterioplankton in the surface seawaters of the East China Sea. Furthermore, we show that the species richness of a local bacterioplankton community can generally be estimated based on the relative abundances of phyla and their contributions of species numbers in the global seawater pool—highlighting the important influence of evolutionary constraints on local community diversity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics