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PHYLOGENETIC META-ANALYSIS

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Abstract

Meta-analysis is a powerful statistical technique that combines the results of independent studies to identify general trends. When the species under examination are not independent however, it is also necessary to incorporate phylogenetic information into the analysis. Unfortunately, current meta-analytic approaches cannot account for lack of independence resulting from shared evolutionary history, so a general solution to this problem is lacking. In this article, I derive a model for phylogenetic meta-analysis, so that data across studies may be summarized with evolutionary history explicitly incorporated. The approach takes advantage of common aspects of linear statistical models used by both meta-analysis and the phylogenetic comparative method, thereby allowing them to be analytically combined. In this manner, the correlation structure generated by phylogenetic history can be incorporated directly into the meta-analytic procedure. I illustrate the approach by examining the prevalence of body size clines in mammals. The approach is general, and can also be used to incorporate correlation structure among studies generated by other factors, such as spatial or temporal proximity, or environmental similarity. Therefore, this procedure provides a general statistical template for meta-analytic techniques that can account for attributes that generate nonindependence among studies. Implications of the phylogenetic meta-analysis are discussed.

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