Diversity, composition and dynamics of Neotropical palm communities are receiving an increasing amount of attention due to their economic importance, but also because their high species richness and functional diversity render them valuable model systems for overall forest biodiversity. However, to better understand these palm communities, it is crucial to gain insight into the mechanisms responsible for their assembly. These can be dispersal limitation, environmental filtering, or biotic interactions. If the degree of niche conservatism is known for a group of organisms, patterns of community phylogenetic structure can be directly traced back to mechanisms of community assembly. We aim to examine this for Neotropical palm communities. Phylogenetic structure will be inferred on different spatial scales and for different community definitions (plot-based and environment-based). To overcome an unspecific assumption of “general niche conservatism”, phylogenetic signal will be analysed for Neotropical palms. Moreover, as an example for evolutionary mechanisms disrupting phylogenetic signal, speciation modes will be examined in selected genera. With the combined results we aim to show the relative importance of the above-mentioned mechanisms of community assembly, and how they replace each other along spatial scales. This could have important implications for species distribution models, which commonly assume a superior importance of environmental filtering.