Species, Guilds, and Functional Groups: Taxonomy and Behavior in Nematophagous Arthropods

  • David Evans Walter
  • Eeva K. Ikonen


Phylogenetic relationship is an indication of shared abilities, or at least of shared constraints, on morphology, physiology, and behavior; but is phylogenetic relationship a sufficient criterion for predicting ecological function? Ecologists have assumed that the function of invertebrates in soil systems can be predicted at a low level of taxonomic resolution, but our research indicates that critical functional parameters -- e.g., feeding behavior, developmental rate, and reproductive mode -- are rarely predictable above the generic level. Since morphology is more strongly conserved than behavior, feeding guilds or functional groups based on broad taxonomic relationship or untested assumptions about correlations between trophic morphology and feeding behavior have little meaning for nematophagous arthropods from grassland soils in Colorado. Key words: arthropod, feeding guild, functional group, grassland soil, nematophagy, phylogenetic constraint.