Journal Article

Stochastic Mapping of Morphological Characters

John P. Huelsenbeck, Rasmus Nielsen and Jonathan P. Bollback

Edited by Ted Schultz

in Systematic Biology

Published on behalf of Society of Systematic Biologists

Volume 52, issue 2, pages 131-158
Published in print April 2003 | ISSN: 1063-5157
Published online April 2003 | e-ISSN: 1076-836X | DOI:
Stochastic Mapping of Morphological Characters

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Many questions in evolutionary biology are best addressed by comparing traits in different species. Often such studies involve mapping characters on phylogenetic trees. Mapping characters on trees allows the nature, number, and timing of the transformations to be identified. The parsimony method is the only method available for mapping morphological characters on phylogenies. Although the parsimony method often makes reasonable reconstructions of the history of a character, it has a number of limitations. These limitations include the inability to consider more than a single change along a branch on a tree and the uncoupling of evolutionary time from amount of character change. We extended a method described by Nielsen (2002, Syst. Biol. 51:729–739) to the mapping of morphological characters under continuous-time Markov models and demonstrate here the utility of the method for mapping characters on trees and for identifying character correlation.

Keywords: Bayesian estimation; character correlation; character mapping; Markov chain Monte Carlo

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Biological Sciences

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