Simple versus complex models of trait evolution and stasis as a response to environmental change
This week we discuss a new paper by Hunt et al. (2015) on models of trait evolution: "Simple versus complex models of trait evolution and stasis as a response to environmental change". This paper is a part of the Special issue: "The future of the fossil record: Paleontology in the 21st century."
Paleontologists have long argued about what the fossil record call tell us about how species evolve over long periods. Simple models such as stasis and random walks have been used to explore evolutionary patterns, but these have not always adequately captured the ways in which traits change over time in fossil species. Here we find that models with complex evolutionary dynamics are often favored, especially for fossil series that sample many populations, suggesting that the underlying evolutionary reality is likely more complex than represented by simplified—though still useful—models of trait change.