Apr 3, 2016

How Well Can We Detect Lineage-Specific Diversification-Rate Shifts? A Simulation Study of Sequential AIC Methods

Systematic Biology
Michael R May, Brian R Moore


Evolutionary biologists have long been fascinated by the extreme differences in species numbers across branches of the Tree of Life. This has motivated the development of statistical methods for detecting shifts in the rate of lineage diversification across the branches of phylogenic trees. One of the most frequently used methods, MEDUSA, explores a set of diversification-rate models, where each model assigns branches of the phylogeny to a set of diversification-rate categories. Each model is first fit to the data, and the Akaike information criterion (AIC) is then used to identify the optimal diversification model. Surprisingly, the statistical behavior of this popular method is uncharacterized, which is a concern in light of: (1) the poor performance of the AIC as a means of choosing among models in other phylogenetic contexts; (2) the ad hoc algorithm used to visit diversification models, and; (3) errors that we reveal in the likelihood function used to fit diversification models to the phylogenetic data. Here, we perform an extensive simulation study demonstrating that MEDUSA (1) has a high false-discovery rate (on average, spurious diversification-rate shifts are identified [Formula: see text] of the time), and (2) provide...Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

In Silico
Trees (plant)
Likelihood Functions
Research Personnel
Phylogenetic Analysis
Mathematical Formula
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