Phyloseminar: Testing hypotheses about cultural evolution

I’m giving a Phyloseminar next Tuesday at 17:00 GMT. “Testing hypotheses about cultural evolution” Anthropologists had a name for the non-independence-of-species-problem way back in the 1880s. Solving “Galton’s Problem”, and the promise of comparative methods for testing hypotheses about cultural adaptation and correlated evolution was a major catalyst for the field of cultural phylogenetics. In … Read more

[scrapbook] suites of correlated characters

The characters used for inferring phylogenetic relationships must be independent of one another (Kluge, 1989). Suites of morphological characters that evolve in concert violate this dictate. Such correlated evolution is most likely to occur when a set of characters underlie a functionally adaptive phenotype or common developmental pathway (Emerson and Hastings, 1998). Such suites of … Read more

bayesian madness

A non-biologist friend of mine, on proofreading bits of the thesis-in-progress, got terribly excited about the program Mr Bayes. "Mr Bayes!" she exclaimed. "That's the perfect name for a tabby cat!" Her comments on the section where I actually described Bayesian methods in phylogenetics consisted mainly of 🙁 and >.< faces. "The words seem to … Read more

paper: phylogenetic classification and the universal tree

Doolittle, W.F. (1999) Phylogenetic classification and the universal tree. Science, 284, 2124-2128. [link] Interesting review discussing recent findings which question a strict tree model for the universal tree of life. Lateral gene transfer is non-trivial, especial in archaeal and bacterial genomes. Doesn't dismiss the usefulness of molecular phylogenetics as a tool, but questions it as … Read more

I just look at the figures

Why is it with all the combined mac-love and technogeekery amongst phylogeneticists there isn’t a simple, friendly way to get my treefile into a presentable graphical form? At present, it’s something torturous like from PAUP > Save As Pict. Then in Word, Import > Picture > File, and try to manipulate the individual bits. Until … Read more

paper: echolocation in bats

Once upon a time I considered becoming an evolutionary bat biologist1. Bats are cool. They’re close to primates on the mammal phylogeny, they have interesting social systems, and some of them have astoundingly sophisticated echolocation systems. Gareth Jones and Emma Teeling have a paper in TREE: The evolution of echolocation in bats, discussing the phylogenetic … Read more

phylogeny comparison applet

A nifty little web-based applet for comparing the topology of two phylogenies and identifying where the differences lie. Could be useful in the future. Works for me on a G5 with Firefox. The paper referring to it is: Nye, T. M. W., Lio, P. & Gilks, W. R. (2006) A novel algorithm and web-based tool … Read more

Paper: Application of Phylogenetic Networks in Evolutionary Studies

Application of Phylogenetic Networks in Evolutionary Studies Daniel H. Huson and David Bryant Molecular Biology and Evolution 2006 23(2):254-267 [link] The evolutionary history of a set of taxa is usually represented by a phylogenetic tree, and this model has greatly facilitated the discussion and testing of hypotheses. However, it is well known that more complex … Read more