Jun 12, 2016

Comment on Smaers et al. (2016): A nonviable phylogenetic comparative method hampered by circularity, inaccuracy, and bias

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Randi H Griffin, Gabriel S Yapuncich


Smaers, Mongle & Kandler (2016) (Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 118: 78-94) introduced a new phylogenetic comparative method, multiple variance Brownian motion (mvBM), for reconstructing ancestral states given a phylogenetic tree and continuous trait data. The authors conducted a simulation study and argued that mvBM outperforms constant variance Brownian motion (BM) when rates of evolution vary across the phylogeny. In this comment, we argue that mvBM is not a viable statistical method because it is fundamentally a circular analysis that overfits phylogenetic branch lengths to the data. We further argue that the comparison of mvBM to BM under conditions where the assumptions of BM are clearly violated is not an informative performance analysis, and that the simulation study of Smaers et al. (2016) exaggerates the performance of mvBM by focusing on a narrow range of simulation conditions and reporting aggregated accuracy metrics that obscure severe inaccuracy and bias in its ancestral state estimates. Our arguments are supported by simulation results. We conclude that mvBM is not a viable phylogenetic comparative method.

  • References
  • Citations


  • We're still populating references for this paper, please check back later.
  • References
  • Citations


  • This paper may not have been cited yet.

Mentioned in this Paper

Bone Marrow
Phylogenetic Analysis
Multiple Congenital Anomalies
Brownian Dynamics
Statistical Technique
Biological Evolution

About this Paper

Related Feeds

BioRxiv & MedRxiv Preprints

BioRxiv and MedRxiv are the preprint servers for biology and health sciences respectively, operated by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Here are the latest preprint articles (which are not peer-reviewed) from BioRxiv and MedRxiv.