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Nothing wrong with the analysis of clades in comparative evolutionary studies

Baker, J. ORCID:, Meade, A., Pagel, M. and Venditti, C. (2021) Nothing wrong with the analysis of clades in comparative evolutionary studies. Systematic Biology, 70 (1). pp. 197-201. ISSN 1063-5157

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/sysbio/syaa067


In a recent paper, Poe et al. (2020) assert that scientists should abandon clade-based approaches, particularly those using named taxonomic ranks. Poe et al (2020) attempt to demonstrate that clade selection can have effects on the results of evolutionary analyses, but unfortunately fall short of making any robust conclusions. Here we demonstrate that the assertions made by Poe et al. (2020) have two important flaws: (i) an erroneous view of modern phylogenetic comparative methods; and (ii) a lack of statistical rigour in their analyses. We repeat Poe et al.’s (2020) analysis, but using appropriate phylogenetic comparative approaches. We demonstrate that results remain consistent regardless of clade definition. We go on to discuss the value of taxonomic groupings and how they can provide meaningful units of comparison in evolutionary study. Unlike the disheartening suggestion to abandon the use of clades, scientists can instead continue to use phylogenetic “corrections” that are already the standard for most comparative evolutionary analyses.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:93819
Publisher:Oxford Academic


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