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8 de marzo de 2011

"Making comparative methods as easy as ABC" on

Brian O'Meara


Brian O'Meara speaks Wednesday, March 30th at 11am PST on "Making comparative methods as easy as ABC"

For decades, biologists have addressed evolutionary and ecological questions using measurements of species traits, phylogenies, and an assortment of comparative methods. Unfortunately, while there is a large assortment of these methods, they are still fairly limited and development of new methods is slow. It took seven years between the introduction of using a simple Brownian motion model for looking at trait evolution (Felsenstein, 1985) and the use of this same model for looking at rates of trait evolution (Garland, 1992), and an additional 14 years to more powerful tests using a small modification of the basic model (O'Meara et al., 2006). Still other promising methods are described and even tested but remain unavailable to empiricists because they are not put into software. As a result, the questions empiricists can ask about the world are limited by the research productivity of the few dozen scientists who develop and implement new methods in phylogenetics. We describe a new approach based on Approximate Bayesian Computation and implemented in R that will allow researchers to easily develop their own models for trait evolution without requiring them to have specialized mathematical or computational knowledge.

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