Relating traits to diversification: A simple test

Robert P. Freckleton, Albert B. Phillimore, Mark Pagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We describe a simple comparative method for determining whether rates of diversification are correlated with continuous traits in species-level phylogenies. This involves comparing traits of species with net speciation rate (number of nodes linking extant species with the root divided by the root to tip evolutionary distance), using a phylogenetically corrected correlation. We use simulations to examine the power of this test. We find that the approach has acceptable power to uncover relationships between speciation and a continuous trait and is robust to background random extinction; however, the power of the approach is reduced when the rate of trait evolution is decreased. The test has low power to relate diversification to traits when extinction rate is correlated with the trait. Clearly, there are inherent limitations in using only data on extant species to infer correlates of extinction; however, this approach is potentially a powerful tool in analyzing correlates of speciation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-115
Number of pages14
JournalThe American Naturalist
Volume172
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008

Keywords

  • extinction
  • speciation
  • phylogeny
  • birth-death process
  • diversification
  • SPECIES RICHNESS
  • PHYLOGENETIC INFORMATION
  • CHARACTER CHANGE
  • LIFE-HISTORY
  • BODY-SIZE
  • INDEPENDENT CONTRASTS
  • TAXONOMIC DIVERSITY
  • INTERSPECIFIC DATA
  • PRIMATE PHYLOGENY
  • SEXUAL SELECTION

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