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Genetics and Molecular Biology

Print version ISSN 1415-4757


DINIZ-FILHO, José Alexandre F.; SANTOS, Thiago; RANGEL, Thiago Fernando  and  BINI, Luis Mauricio. A comparison of metrics for estimating phylogenetic signal under alternative evolutionary models. Genet. Mol. Biol. [online]. 2012, vol.35, n.3, pp.673-679.  Epub Aug 02, 2012. ISSN 1415-4757.

Several metrics have been developed for estimating phylogenetic signal in comparative data. These may be important both in guiding future studies on correlated evolution and for inferring broad-scale evolutionary and ecological processes (e.g., phylogenetic niche conservatism). Notwithstanding, the validity of some of these metrics is under debate, especially after the development of more sophisticated model-based approaches that estimate departure from particular evolutionary models (i.e., Brownian motion). Here, two of these model-based metrics (Blomberg's K-statistics and Pagel's λ) are compared with three statistical approaches [Moran's I autocorrelation coefficient, coefficients of determination from the autoregressive method (ARM), and phylogenetic eigenvector regression (PVR)]. Based on simulations of a trait evolving under Brownian motion for a phylogeny with 209 species, we showed that all metrics are strongly, although non-linearly, correlated to each other. Our analyses revealed that statistical approaches provide valid results and may be still particularly useful when detailed phylogenies are unavailable or when trait variation among species is difficult to describe by more standard Brownian or O-U evolutionary models.

Keywords : autocorrelation; Blomberg's K; Pagel's lambda; autoregressive method; Moran's I; phylogenetic eigenvector regression.

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