Data from: Evolution of a key trait greatly affects underground community assembly process through habitat adaptation in earthworms
Ikeda, Hiroshi et al. (2018), Data from: Evolution of a key trait greatly affects underground community assembly process through habitat adaptation in earthworms, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.bh5v9
Underground community assemblies have not been studied well compared with aboveground communities, despite their importance for our understanding of whole ecosystems. To investigate underground community assembly over evolutionary time scales, we examined terrestrial earthworm communities (Oligochaeta: Haplotaxida) in conserved mountainous primary forests in Japan as a model system. We collected 553 earthworms mostly from two dominant families, the Megascolecidae and the Lumbricidae, from 12 sites. We constructed a molecular taxonomic unit tree based on the analysis of three genes to examine the effects of a biogeographic factor (dispersal ability) and an evolutionary factor (habitat adaptation) on the earthworm community assembly process. The phylogenetic distance of the earthworm communities among sites was positively correlated with geographic distance when intraspecific variation was included, indicating that the divergence within species was affected by biogeographic factors. The community assembly process in the Megascolecidae has also been affected by environmental conditions in relation to an evolutionary relationship between habitat environment and intestinal caecum type, a trait closely related to habitat depth and diet, whereas that in the Lumbricidae has not been affected as such. Intestinal caecum type showed a pattern of niche conservatism in the Megascolecidae lineage. Our results suggest that investigating the evolution of a key trait related to life history can lead to the clear description of community assembly process over a long time scale and that the community assembly process can differ greatly among related lineages even though they live sympatrically.