Polymorphic characters in phylogenetic systematics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

207 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The use of discrete, intraspecifically variable characters in parsimony analysis is reviewed. Seven data sets (two from morphology and five from allozymes) were analyzed to (1) compare different methods for treating polymorphic characters, (2) test for phylogenetic information in polymorphic characters, and (3) determine if there is a relationship between homoplasy and intraspecific variability. The performance of eight methods was compared using five criteria (number of characters treated as informative, number of shortest trees, phylogenetic signal, number of nodes supported by bootstrapping, and sensitivity to reduced sample size). Approaches that incorporate explicit frequency information perform best overall for all the criteria, although the "majority" method ties for best for the bootstrapping criterion. Levels of phylogenetic information in the polymorphic characters differed greatly among data sets and methods. Polymorphic characters in most data sets contained significant phylogenetic structure using most methods, but only one, the frequency method, extracted significant signal from the polymorphic characters in all seven data sets. Fixed characters appear to contain more signal than polymorphic characters, and homoplasy is significantly and positively correlated with intraspecific variability. This study supports the traditional view that polymorphic characters are less reliable in inferring phylogeny but does not necessarily support their exclusion. Systematists working with morphological data often do not report intraspecific variation, the frequencies of different traits, or how polymorphic characters are screened and analyzed; this situation should change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)482-499
Number of pages18
JournalSystematic Biology
Volume44
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1995
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

taxonomy
phylogenetics
phylogeny
bootstrapping
methodology
parsimony analysis
intraspecific variation
Phylogeny
allozyme
allozymes
Sample Size
Isoenzymes
method
Datasets
testing
sampling

Keywords

  • Allozymes
  • Character coding
  • Character selection
  • Character weighting
  • Homoplasy
  • Morphology
  • Polymorphic characters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Polymorphic characters in phylogenetic systematics. / Wiens, John J.

In: Systematic Biology, Vol. 44, No. 4, 12.1995, p. 482-499.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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