Using subterranean fauna in the Canary Islands as a simplified natural laboratory, we explored how the interplay of eco-evolutionary processes shape taxonomic and functional diversity patterns in oceanic archipelagos through geological times. First, we demonstrated an overall convergence in the trait spaces of subterranean communities across islands, yet with variability according to each island's ontogenetic state---young, mature, or senescent. Next, we showed that the reduced species contribution to the island's traits space in mature islands is a consequence of an optimisation of the use of the available niche space driven by species interactions. Finally, we link those lines of evidence showing that species interactions select a non-random combination of traits in mature islands. Collectively, our results provided a mechanistic description of the drivers of diversity in oceanic islands by suggesting causal relationships between species functional properties and island diversity metrics accounting for their geological age.
Most of our understanding of island diversity comes from the study of aboveground systems, while the patterns and processes of diversification and community assembly for belowground biotas remain poorly understood. Here we take advantage of a relatively young and dynamic oceanic island to advance our understanding of eco-evolutionary processes driving community assembly within soil mesofauna. Using whole organism community DNA (wocDNA) metabarcoding and the recently developed metaMATE pipeline, we have generated spatially explicit and reliable haplotype-level DNA sequence data for soil mesofaunal assemblages sampled across the four main habitats within the island of Tenerife. Community ecological and metaphylogeographic analyses have been performed at multiple levels of genetic similarity, from haplotypes to species and supraspecific groupings. Broadly consistent patterns of local-scale species richness across different insular habitats have been found, whereas local insular richness is lower than in continental settings. Our results reveal an important role for niche conservatism as a driver of insular community assembly of soil mesofauna, with only limited evidence for habitat shifts promoting diversification. Furthermore, support is found for a fundamental role of habitat in the assembly of soil mesofauna, where habitat specialism is mainly due to colonisation and the establishment of preadapted species. Hierarchical patterns of distance decay at the community level and metaphylogeographical analyses support a pattern of geographic structuring over limited spatial scales, from the level of haplotypes through to species and lineages, as expected for taxa with strong dispersal limitations. Our results demonstrate the potential for wocDNA metabarcoding to advance our understanding of biodiversity.