Coll. 4 Reading Group: Integrating Paleontological and Phylogenetic Approaches to Macroevolution
This Friday the journal club will discuss a paper by Gene Hunt and Graham Slater (2016): "Integrating Paleontological and Phylogenetic Approaches to Macroevolution" .
With proliferation of molecular phylogenies and advances in statistical modeling, phylogeneticists can now address macroevolutionary questions that had traditionally been the purview of paleontology. Interest has focused on three areas at the intersection of phylogenetic and paleontological research: time-scaling phylogenies, understanding trait evolution, and modeling species diversification. Fossil calibrations have long been crucial for scaling phylogenies to absolute time, but recent advances allow more equal integration of extinct taxa. Simulation and empirical studies have shown that fossil data can markedly improve inferences about trait evolution, especially for models with heterogeneous temporal dynamics and in clades for which the living forms are unrepresentative remnants of their larger clade. Recent years have also seen a productive cross-disciplinary conversation about the nature and uncertainties of inferring diversification dynamics. Challenges remain, but the present time represents a flowering of interest in integrating these two views on the history of life.