Is congruence between data partitions a reliable predictor of phylogenetic accuracy? Empirically testing an iterative procedure for choosing among phylogenetic methods.
The relationship between phylogenetic accuracy and congruence between data partitions collected from the same taxa was explored for mitochondrial DNA sequences from two well-supported vertebrate phylogenies. An iterative procedure was adopted whereby accuracy, phylogenetic signal, and congruence were measured before and after modifying a simple reconstruction model, equally weighted parsimony. These modifications included transversion parsimony, successive weighting, and six-parameter parsimony. For the data partitions examined, there is a generally positive relationship between congruence and phylogenetic accuracy. If congruence increased without decreasing resolution or phylogenetic signal, this increased congruence was a good predictor of accuracy. If congruence increased as a result of poor resolution, the degree of congruence was not a good predictor of accuracy. For all sets of data partitions, six-parameter parsimony methods show a consistently positive relationship between congruence and accuracy. Unlike successive weighting, six-parameter parsimony methods were not strongly influenced by the starting tree.
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