Molecular Clocks without Rocks: New Solutions for Old Problems.
Molecular data have been used to date species divergences ever since they were described as documents of evolutionary history in the 1960s. Yet, an inadequate fossil record and discordance between gene trees and species trees are persistently problematic. We examine how, by accommodating gene tree discordance and by scaling branch lengths to absolute time using mutation rate and generation time, multispecies coalescent (MSC) methods can potentially overcome these challenges. We find that time estimates can differ - in some cases, substantially - depending on whether MSC methods or traditional phylogenetic methods that apply concatenation are used, and whether the tree is calibrated with pedigree-based mutation rates or with fossils. We discuss the advantages and shortcomings of both approaches and provide practical guidance for data analysis when using these methods.
Tiley, GP; Poelstra, JW; Dos Reis, M; Yang, Z; Yoder, AD
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