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Random Trees and the Comparative Method: A Cautionary Tale

Ehab Abouheif
Evolution
Vol. 52, No. 4 (Aug., 1998), pp. 1197-1204
DOI: 10.2307/2411248
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2411248
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Random Trees and the Comparative Method: A Cautionary Tale
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Abstract

One of the toughest problems facing comparative biology is the paucity of robust phylogenetic hypotheses for many taxonomic groups. Martins (1996) proposed a method to analyze comparative data in the absence of a known phylogeny using randomly generated trees. Before applying this method, however, researchers should be aware that (1) parameter estimates derived from this method essentially assume a star phylogeny, and thus, estimate the same evolutionary regression or correlation coefficient as traditional cross-species analyses; and (2) statistical conclusions derived from this method may be so conservative as to mask evolutionary patterns, such as Rensch's rule, and should be interpreted with caution.

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