Molecular phylogenies map to biogeography better than morphological ones

Oyston, Jack W., Ruta, Marcello, Wilkinson, Mark and Wills, Matthew A. (2022) Molecular phylogenies map to biogeography better than morphological ones. Communications Biology, 5 (521). ISSN 2399-3642

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-022-03482-x

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Molecular phylogenies map to biogeography better than morphological ones
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Abstract

Phylogenetic relationships are inferred principally from two classes of data: morphological and molecular. Most current phylogenies of extant taxa are inferred from molecules, and when morphological and molecular trees conflict the latter are often preferred. Although supported by simulations, the superiority of molecular trees has never been assessed empirically. Here we test phylogenetic accuracy using two independent data sources: biogeographical distributions and fossil first occurrences. For 48 pairs of morphological and molecular trees, we show that, on average, molecular trees provide a better fit to biogeographical data than their morphological counterparts, and that, biogeographical congruence increases over research time. We find no significant differences in stratigraphical congruence between morphological and molecular trees. These findings have implications for understanding homoplasy in morphological data sets, the utility of morphology as a test of molecular hypotheses, and the implications of analysing fossil groups for which molecular data are unavailable.

Keywords:phylogeny, biogeography, congruence, morphology, molecules
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
C Biological Sciences > C181 Biodiversity
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:49562
Deposited On:30 May 2022 08:06

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