The 10kTrees website: A new online resource for primate phylogeny

Authors

  • Christian Arnold,

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    • Christian Arnold worked for one year at Harvard University in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology and is now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Leipzig, Germany. His bioinformatics research focuses on epigenetics, particularly noncoding RNAs and chromatin. Generally, he is interested in finding creative solutions for a wide variety of bioinformatic-related problems in phylogenetics, phylogenetic comparative methods, and epigenetics.

  • Luke J. Matthews,

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    • Luke Matthews is an anthropologist and primatologist whose interests include the evolution of primate behavior, primate traditions, and human cultural evolution. He has conducted primatological field work in Ecuador and Argentina. He employs phylogenetics, network analysis, and cluster analysis to study inheritance systems that range from DNA sequences to primate foraging traditions and human material culture.

  • Charles L. Nunn

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    • Charles Nunn is an evolutionary anthropologist with interests in primate disease ecology, behavior, and cultural evolution. His research uses phylogenetic methods and mathematical modeling. He is the author of Infectious Diseases of Primates: Behavior, Ecology and Evolution (with Sonia Altizer) and a forthcoming book, The Comparative Approach in Evolutionary Anthropology and Biology.


Abstract

The comparative method plays a central role in efforts to uncover the adaptive basis for primate behaviors, morphological traits, and cognitive abilities.1–4 The comparative method has been used, for example, to infer that living in a larger group selects for a larger neocortex,5, 6 that primate territoriality favors a longer day range relative to home range size,7 and that sperm competition can account for the evolution of primate testes size.8, 9 Comparison is fundamental for reconstructing behavioral traits in the fossil record, for example, in studies of locomotion and diet.10–13 Recent advances in comparative methods require phylogenetic information,2, 14–16 but our knowledge of phylogenetic information is imperfect. In the face of uncertainty about evolutionary relationships, which phylogeny should one use? Here we provide a new resource for comparative studies of primates that enables users to run comparative analyses on multiple primate phylogenies Importantly, the 10,000 trees that we provide are not random, but instead use recent systematic methods to create a plausible set of topologies that reflect our certainty about some nodes on the tree and uncertainty about other nodes, given the dataset. The trees also reflect uncertainty about branch lengths.

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