Bayesian Inference of Speciation and Extinction Rates using the Fossil Record

Friday seminar by Daniele Silvestro

Analytical advances in molecular phylogenetics and palaeobiology have provided us with tools to estimate the tempo and mode of species diversification. However, most studies have relied on a single source of data: either molecular phylogenies or fossil occurrences. Few attempts have yet been made to compare results based on evidence from both, despite large discrepancies in the patterns recovered for almost all groups of organisms. This situation might derive from limited interaction between molecular systematists and paleontologists, but also from widely different methods and assumptions employed, making comparisons statistically difficult. Here we present a new hierarchical Bayesian framework to jointly estimate times of origin and disappearance of taxa and rates of speciation and extinction based on the fossil record. Speciation and extinction rates can vary through time and their temporal dynamics can be decoupled. Data sets of mammal fossils are used to investigate diversification processes through time and in different clades. Our method represents a step toward an integrated approach that combines phylogenetic and fossil information to infer macroevolutionary processes.

Daniele Silvestro (homepage)
LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F)

Published Jan. 3, 2013 11:45 AM - Last modified Jan. 3, 2013 12:45 PM