Estimating diversification rates for higher taxa: BAMM can give problematic estimates of rates and rate shifts

Andreas L.S. Meyer, John J Wiens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Estimates of diversification rates are invaluable for many macroevolutionary studies. Recently, an approach called BAMM (Bayesian Analysis of Macro-evolutionary Mixtures) has become widely used for estimating diversification rates and rate shifts. At the same time, several articles have concluded that estimates of net diversification rates from the method-of-moments (MS) estimators are inaccurate. Yet, no studies have compared the ability of these two methods to accurately estimate clade diversification rates. Here, we use simulations to compare their performance. We found that BAMM yielded relatively weak relationships between true and estimated diversification rates. This occurred because BAMM underestimated the number of rates shifts across each tree, and assigned high rates to small clades with low rates. Errors in both speciation and extinction rates contributed to these errors, showing that using BAMM to estimate only speciation rates is also problematic. In contrast, the MS estimators (particularly using stem group ages), yielded stronger relationships between true and estimated diversification rates, by roughly twofold. Furthermore, the MS approach remained relatively accurate when diversification rates were heterogeneous within clades, despite the widespread assumption that it requires constant rates within clades. Overall, we caution that BAMM may be problematic for estimating diversification rates and rate shifts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEvolution
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • BAMM
  • Diversification
  • Extinction
  • Macroevolution
  • Simulations
  • Speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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