A General Class of Test Statistics for Van Valen's Red Queen Hypothesis

Journal of Applied Statistics
Jelani WiltshireWilliam C Parker


Van Valen's Red Queen hypothesis states that within a homogeneous taxonomic group the age is statistically independent of the rate of extinction. The case of the Red Queen hypothesis being addressed here is when the homogeneous taxonomic group is a group of similar species. Since Van Valen's work, various statistical approaches have been used to address the relationship between taxon age and the rate of extinction. We propose a general class of test statistics that can be used to test for the effect of age on the rate of extinction. These test statistics allow for a varying background rate of extinction and attempt to remove the effects of other covariates when assessing the effect of age on extinction. No model is assumed for the covariate effects. Instead we control for covariate effects by pairing or grouping together similar species. Simulations are used to compare the power of the statistics. We apply the test statistics to data on Foram extinctions and find that age has a positive effect on the rate of extinction. A derivation of the null distribution of one of the test statistics is provided in the supplementary material.


Dec 17, 2009·Nature·Chris VendittiMark Pagel
Jan 22, 2010·Nature·Michael J Benton
Aug 1, 1995·Trends in Ecology & Evolution·K J Willis, K D Bennett


Oct 27, 2017·Systematic Biology·Oskar HagenDaniele Silvestro
Dec 20, 2019·Ecology Letters·Daniele SilvestroPasquale Raia

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