Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
Vol. 39: 365-385 (Volume publication date December 2008)
First published online as a Review in Advance on September 3, 2008
Debate has long simmered over whether data on the order of appearance of taxa in the stratigraphic record should play any role in analyses of phylogenetic relationships among those taxa. Critics argue that temporal data are in principle inapplicable to questions of cladistic relationship, but specific versions of this claim all seem flawed. Stratocladistics offers a methodological context (patterned after that of cladistics itself) within which temporal data participate along with conventional character data in selecting most-parsimonious hypotheses. Stratocladistics outperforms cladistics in tests based on simulated histories, and additional testing will be facilitated by new software automating stratocladistic searches. As with any body of data, we may decide to include or exclude temporal data for specific reasons, but the explanatory power of hypotheses that use both temporal and conventional character data exceeds that of hypotheses based on character data alone.