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Estimating the probability of continuous character transitions on trees

PI(s): Alexander Platt (University of Southern California)
Start Date: 22-Feb-2008
End Date: 27-Mar-2008
Keywords: phylogenetics, comparative methods, computational modeling

Estimating the evolutionary history of species traits is a basic problem in evolutionary biology and an issue of practical concern for ecologists, developmental biologists, and others testing biological hypotheses using phylogenetic data. This project adapts and evaluates a Bayesian method of association mapping to the problem of estimating when in phylogenetic time evolutionary shifts in quantitative traits occurred. Existing phylogenetic comparative methods are well-suited to estimating trait values of putative ancestors, testing specific evolutionary hypotheses, and mapping transitions in discrete traits. The method to be developed will directly estimate the probability and magnitude of quantitative trait change on all branches of a phylogeny simultaneously under explicitly formulated evolutionary models.

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