Phylogenetic Comparative Methods: A User’s Guide for Paleontologists

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Laura Soul, David Wright


Recent advances in statistical approaches called Phylogenetic Comparative Methods (PCMs) have provided paleontologists with a powerful set of analytical tools for investigating evolutionary tempo and mode in fossil lineages. However, attempts to integrate PCMs with fossil data often present workers with practical challenges or unfamiliar literature. In this paper, we present guides to the theory behind, and application of, PCMs with fossil taxa. Based on an empirical dataset of Paleozoic crinoids, we present example analyses to illustrate common applications of PCMs to fossil data, including investigating patterns of correlated trait evolution, and macroevolutionary models of morphological change. We emphasize the importance of accounting for sources of uncertainty, and discuss how to evaluate model fit and adequacy. Finally, we discuss several promising methods for modelling heterogenous evolutionary dynamics with fossil phylogenies. Integrating phylogeny-based approaches with the fossil record provides a rigorous, quantitative perspective to understanding key patterns in the history of life.



Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences


fossils, Macroevolution, paleobiology, Paleontology, Phylogenetic comparative methods, phylogenetics


Published: 2020-10-05 20:40


CC-By Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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