Crane Phylosymbiosis Data Files from A bird's-eye view of phylosymbiosis: weak signatures of phylosymbiosis among all 15 species of cranes

In numerous animal clades, the evolutionary history of host species drives patterns of gut microbial community structure, resulting in more divergent microbiota with increasing phylogenetic distance between hosts. This phenomenon, termed phylosymbiosis, has been observed in diverse evolutionary lineages, but has been difficult to detect in birds. Previous tests of phylosymbiosis among birds have been conducted using wild individuals, and thus interspecific differences in diet and environment may have masked a phylogenetic signal. Therefore, we tested for phylosymbiosis among all 15 species of cranes (family Gruidae) housed in the same captive environment and maintained on identical diets. 16S rRNA sequencing revealed that crane species harbour distinct gut microbiota. Overall, we detected marginally significant patterns of phylosymbiosis, the strength of which was increased when including the estimates of absolute microbial abundance (rather than relative abundance) derived from microbial densities determined by flow cytometry. Using this approach, we detected the statistically significant signatures of phylosymbiosis only after removing male cranes from our analysis, suggesting that using mixed-sex animal cohorts may prevent the detection of phylosymbiosis. Though weak compared with mammals (and especially insects), these results provide evidence of phylosymbiosis in birds. We discuss the potential differences between birds and mammals, such as transmission routes and host filtering, that may underlie the differences in the strength of phylosymbiosis.