New inferences from tree shape: numbers of missing taxa and population growth rates

Pybus OG, Rambaut A, Holmes EC & Harvey PH

(2002) Syst Biol 51, 881-888.

The relative positions of branching events in a phylogeny contain information about evolutionary and population dynamic processes. We provide new summary statistics of branching event times and describe how these statistics can be used to infer rates of species diversification from interspecies trees or rates of population growth from intraspecies trees. We also introduce a phylogenetic method for estimating the level of taxon sampling in a clade. Different evolutionary models and different sampling regimes can produce similar patterns of branching events, so it is important to consider explicitly the model assumptions involved when making evolutionary inferences. Results of an analysis of the phylogeny of the mosquito-borne flaviviruses suggest that there could be several thousand currently unidentified viruses in this clade.

Andrew Rambaut, 2007