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Martyn Kennedy, Roderic D. M. Page
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The growing use of comparative methods to address evolutionary questions has generated an increased need for robust hypotheses of evolutionary relationships for a wide range of organisms. Where a phylogeny exists for a group, often more than one phylogeny will exist for that group, and it is uncommon that the same taxa are in each of the existing trees. The types of data used to generate evolutionary trees can also vary greatly, and thus combining data sets is often difficult or impossible. To address comparative questions for groups where multiple phylogenetic hypotheses already exist, we need to combine different hypotheses in a way that provides the best estimate of the phylogeny for that group. Here, we combine seven seabird phylogenies (based on behavioral, DNA–DNA hybridization, isozyme, life history, morphological, and sequence data) to generate a comprehensive supertree for the Procellariiformes using matrix representation with parsimony. This phylogeny contains 122 taxa and represents a conservative estimate of combined relationships presented in the original seven source trees. We compared the supertree with results of a combined sequence data supermatrix for 103 seabird taxa. Results of the two approaches are broadly concordant, but matrix representation with parsimony provides a more comprehensive and more conservative estimate of the phylogeny of the group because it is less influenced by the largest of the source studies (which uses a single, relatively quickly evolving gene). Genetic data sets that can be combined in a supermatrix approach are currently less likely to be available than phylogenies that can be combined using some form of supertree approach. Although there are limitations to both of those approaches, both would be simpler if all phylogenetic studies made both their data sets and trees they generate available through databases such as TREEBASE.

Martyn Kennedy and Roderic D. M. Page "SEABIRD SUPERTREES: COMBINING PARTIAL ESTIMATES OF PROCELLARIIFORM PHYLOGENY," The Auk 119(1), 88-108, (1 January 2002).[0088:SSCPEO]2.0.CO;2
Received: 8 December 2000; Accepted: 21 September 2001; Published: 1 January 2002
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