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Abstract

Reconstructing ancestral characters on a phylogeny is an arduous task because the observed states at the tips of the tree correspond to a single realization of the underlying evolutionary process. Recently, it was proposed that ancestral traits can be indirectly estimated with the help of molecular data, based on the fact that life history traits influence substitution rates. Here we challenge these new approaches in the Cetartiodactyla, a clade of large mammals which, according to paleontology, derive from small ancestors. Analysing transcriptome data in 41 species, of which 22 were newly sequenced, we provide a dated phylogeny of the Cetartiodactyla and report a significant effect of body mass on the overall substitution rate, the synonymous vs. non-synonymous substitution rate and the dynamics of GC-content. Our molecular comparative analysis points toward relatively small Cetartiodactyla ancestors, in agreement with the fossil record, even though our data set almost exclusively consists of large species. This analysis demonstrates the potential of phylogenomic methods for ancestral trait reconstruction and gives credit to recent suggestions that the ancestor to placental mammals was a relatively large and long-lived animal.

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Molecular sequences are shaped by selection, where the strength of selection relative to drift is determined by effective population size (Ne). Populations with high Ne are expected to undergo stronger purifying selection, and consequently to show a lower substitution rate for selected mutations relative to the substitution rate for neutral mutations (ω). However, computational models based on biophysics of protein stability have suggested that ω can also be independent of Ne. Together, the response of ω to changes in Ne depends on the specific mapping from sequence to fitness. Importantly, an increase in protein expression level has been found empirically to result in decrease of ω, an observation predicted by theoretical models assuming selection for protein stability. Here, we derive a theoretical approximation for the response of ω to changes in Ne and expression level, under an explicit genotype-phenotype-fitness map. The method is generally valid for additive traits and log-concave fitness functions. We applied these results to protein undergoing selection for their conformational stability and corroborate out findings with simulations under more complex models. We predict a weak response of ω to changes in either Ne or expression level, which are interchangeable. Based on empirical data, we propose that fitness based on the conformational stability may not be a sufficient mechanism to explain the empirically observed variation in ω across species. Other aspects of protein biophysics might be explored, such as protein-protein interactions, which can lead to a stronger response of ω to changes in Ne.
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Multiple sequence alignment is a prerequisite for many evolutionary analyses. MACSE is a multiple sequence alignment program that explicitly accounts for the underlying codon structure of protein-coding nucleotide sequences. Its unique characteristic allows building reliable codon alignments even in the presence of frameshifts. This facilitates downstream analyses such as selection pressure estimation based on the ratio of non-synonymous to synonymous substitutions. Here, we present MACSE v2, a major update with an improved version of the initial algorithm enriched with a complete toolkit to handle multiple alignments of protein-coding sequences. A graphical interface now provides user-friendly access to the different subprograms.
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Phenotypic convergence is an exciting outcome of adaptive evolution, occurring when different species find similar solutions to the same problem. Unraveling the molecular basis of convergence provides a way to link genotype to adaptive phenotypes, but can also shed light on the extent to which molecular evolution is repeatable and predictable. Many recent genome-wide studies have uncovered a striking pattern of diminishing convergence over time, ascribing this pattern to the presence of intramolecular epistatic interactions. Here, we consider gene tree discordance as an alternative cause of changes in convergence levels over time in a primate dataset. We demonstrate that gene tree discordance can produce patterns of diminishing convergence by itself, and that controlling for discordance as a cause of apparent convergence makes the pattern disappear. We also show that synonymous substitutions, where neither selection nor epistasis should be prevalent, have the same diminishing pattern of molecular convergence in primates. Finally, we demonstrate that even in situations where biological discordance is not possible, discordance due to errors in species tree inference can drive similar patterns. Though intramolecular epistasis could in principle create a pattern of declining convergence over time, our results suggest a possible alternative explanation for this widespread pattern. These results contribute to a growing appreciation not just of the presence of gene tree discordance, but of the unpredictable effects this discordance can have on analyses of molecular evolution
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Total-evidence dating (TED) allows evolutionary biologists to incorporate a wide range of dating information into a unified statistical analysis. One might expect this to improve the agreement between rocks and clocks but this is not necessarily the case. We explore the reasons for such discordance using a mammalian dataset with rich molecular, morphological and fossil information. There is strong conflict in this dataset between morphology and molecules under standard stochastic models. This causes TED to push divergence events back in time when using inadequate models or vague priors, a phenomenon we term ‘deep root attraction’ (DRA). We identify several causes of DRA. Failure to account for diversified sampling results in dramatic DRA, but this can be addressed using existing techniques. Inadequate morphological models also appear to be a major contributor to DRA. The major reason seems to be that current models do not account for dependencies among morphological characters, causing distorted topology and branch length estimates. This is particularly problematic for huge morphological datasets, which may contain large numbers of correlated characters. Finally, diversification and fossil sampling priors that do not incorporate all the available background information can contribute to DRA, but these priors can also be used to compensate for DRA. Specifically, we show that DRA in the mammalian dataset can be addressed by introducing a modest extra penalty for ghost lineages that are unobserved in the fossil record, for instance by assuming rapid diversification, rare extinction or high fossil sampling rate; any of these assumptions produces highly congruent divergence time estimates with a minimal gap between rocks and clocks. Under these conditions, fossils have a stabilizing influence on divergence time estimates and significantly increase the precision of those estimates, which are generally close to the dates suggested by palaeontologists. This article is part of the themed issue ‘Dating species divergences using rocks and clocks’.
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Background The metabolic theory of ecology stipulates that molecular evolutionary rates should correlate with temperature and latitude in ectothermic organisms. Previous studies have shown that most groups of vertebrates, such as amphibians, turtles and even endothermic mammals, have higher molecular evolutionary rates in regions where temperature is high. However, the association between molecular evolutionary rates and temperature or latitude has never been tested in Squamata. Results We used a large dataset including the spatial distributions and environmental variables for 1,651 species of Squamata and compared the contrast of the rates of molecular evolution with the contrast of temperature and latitude between sister species. Using major axis regressions and a new algorithm to choose independent sister species pairs, we found that temperature and absolute latitude were not associated with molecular evolutionary rates. Conclusions This absence of association in such a diverse ectothermic group questions the mechanisms explaining current pattern of species diversity in Squamata and challenges the presupposed universality of the metabolic theory of ecology. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-016-0666-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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The nearly neutral theory of molecular evolution predicts that small populations should accumulate deleterious mutations at a faster rate than large populations. The analysis of non-synonymous (dN) vs. synonymous (dS) substitution rates in birds vs. mammals, however, has provided contradictory results, questioning the generality of the nearly neutral theory. Here we analyzed the impact of life-history traits, taken as proxies of the effective population size, on molecular evolutionary and population genetic processes in amniotes, including the so far neglected reptiles. We report a strong effect of species body mass, longevity and age of sexual maturity on genome-wide patterns of polymorphism and divergence across the major groups of amniotes, in agreement with the nearly neutral theory. Our results indicate that the rate of protein evolution in amniotes is determined in the first place by the efficiency of purifying selection against deleterious mutations – and this is true of both radical and conservative amino-acid changes. Interestingly, the among-species distribution of dN/dS in birds did not follow this general trend: dN/dS was not higher in large, long-lived than in small, short-lived species of birds. We show that this unexpected pattern is not due to a more narrow range of life-history traits, a lack of correlation between traits and Ne, or a peculiar distribution of fitness effects of mutations in birds. Our analysis therefore highlights the bird dN/dS ratio as a molecular evolutionary paradox and a challenge for future research.
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Pigs have been one of the most important sources of meat for humans, and their productivity has been substantially improved by recent strong selection. Here, we present whole-genome resequencing analyses of 55 pigs of five breeds representing Korean native pigs, wild boar and three European origin breeds. 1,673.1 Gb of sequence reads were mapped to the Swine reference assembly, covering ∼99.2% of the reference genome, at an average of ∼11.7-fold coverage. We detected 20,123,573 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), of which 25.5% were novel. We extracted 35,458 of non-synonymous SNPs in 9,904 genes, which may contribute to traits of interest. The whole SNP sets were further used to access the population structures of the breeds, using multiple methodologies, including phylogenetic, similarity matrix, and population structure analysis. They showed clear population clusters with respect to each breed. Furthermore, we scanned the whole genomes to identify signatures of selection throughout the genome. The result revealed several promising loci that might underlie economically important traits in pigs, such as the CLDN1 and TWIST1 genes. These discoveries provide useful genomic information for further study of the discrete genetic mechanisms associated with economically important traits in pigs. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Kazusa DNA Research Institute.
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Cope's rule proposes that animal lineages evolve toward larger body size over time. To test this hypothesis across all marine animals, we compiled a data set of body sizes for 17,208 genera of marine animals spanning the past 542 million years. Mean biovolume across genera has increased by a factor of 150 since the Cambrian, whereas minimum biovolume has decreased by less than a factor of 10, and maximum biovolume has increased by more than a factor of 100,000. Neutral drift from a small initial value cannot explain this pattern. Instead, most of the size increase reflects differential diversification across classes, indicating that the pattern does not reflect a simple scaling-up of widespread and persistent selection for larger size within populations. Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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O'Leary et al. (O'Leary et al. 2013 Science 339, 662–667. (doi:10.1126/science.1229237)) performed a fossil-only dating analysis of mammals, concluding that the ancestor of placentals post-dated the Cretaceous–Palaeogene boundary, contradicting previous palaeontological and molecular studies that placed the ancestor in the Cretaceous. They incorrectly used fossil ages as species divergence times for crown groups, while in fact the former should merely form minimum-age bounds for the latter. Statistical analyses of the fossil record have shown that crown groups are significantly older than the oldest ingroup fossil, so that fossils do not directly reflect the true ages of clades. Here, we analyse a 20 million nucleotide genome-scale alignment in conjunction with a probabilistic interpretation of the fossil ages from O'Leary et al. Our combined analysis of fossils and molecules demonstrates that Placentalia originated in the Cretaceous.
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Genes and genomes do not evolve similarly in all branches of the tree of life. Detecting and characterizing the heterogeneity in time, and between lineages, of the nucleotide (or amino acid) substitution process is an important goal of current molecular evolutionary research. This task is typically achieved through the use of non-homogeneous models of sequence evolution, which being highly parametrized and computationally-demanding are not appropriate for large-scale analyses. Here we investigate an alternative methodological option based on probabilistic substitution mapping. The idea is to first reconstruct the substitutional history of each site of an alignment under a homogeneous model of sequence evolution, then to characterize variations in the substitution process across lineages based on substitution counts. Using simulated and published datasets, we demonstrate that probabilistic substitution mapping is robust in that it typically provides accurate reconstruction of sequence ancestry even when the true process is heterogeneous, but a homogeneous model is adopted. Consequently, we show that the new approach is essentially as efficient as and extremely faster than (up to 25 000 times) existing methods, thus paving the way for a systematic survey of substitution process heterogeneity across genes and lineages.
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The analysis of extant sequences shows that molecular evolution has been heterogeneous through time and among lineages. However, for a given sequence alignment, it is often difficult to uncover what factors caused this heterogeneity. In fact, identifying and characterizing heterogeneous patterns of molecular evolution along a phylogenetic tree is very challenging, for lack of appropriate methods. Users either have to a priori define groups of branches along which they believe molecular evolution has been similar or have to allow each branch to have its own pattern of molecular evolution. The first approach assumes prior knowledge that is seldom available, and the second requires estimating an unreasonably large number of parameters. Here we propose a convenient and reliable approach where branches get clustered by their pattern of molecular evolution alone, with no need for prior knowledge about the data set under study. Model selection is achieved in a statistical framework and therefore avoids overparameterization. We rely on substitution mapping for efficiency and present two clustering approaches, depending on whether or not we expect neighbouring branches to share more similar patterns of sequence evolution than distant branches. We validate our method on simulations and test it on four previously published data sets. We find that our method correctly groups branches sharing similar equilibrium GC contents in a data set of ribosomal RNAs and recovers expected footprints of selection through dN/dS. Importantly, it also uncovers a new pattern of relaxed selection in a phylogeny of Mantellid frogs, which we are able to correlate to life-history traits. This shows that our programs should be very useful to study patterns of molecular evolution and reveal new correlations between sequence and species evolution. Our programs can run on DNA, RNA, codon, or amino acid sequences with a large set of possible models of substitutions and are available at http://biopp.univ-montp2.fr/forge/testnh.
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Previous analyses of relations, divergence times, and diversification patterns among extant mammalian families have relied on supertree methods and local molecular clocks. We constructed a molecular supermatrix for mammalian families and analyzed these data with likelihood-based methods and relaxed molecular clocks. Phylogenetic analyses resulted in a robust phylogeny with better resolution than phylogenies from supertree methods. Relaxed clock analyses support the long-fuse model of diversification and highlight the importance of including multiple fossil calibrations that are spread across the tree. Molecular time trees and diversification analyses suggest important roles for the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution and Cretaceous-Paleogene (KPg) mass extinction in opening up ecospace that promoted interordinal and intraordinal diversification, respectively. By contrast, diversification analyses provide no support for the hypothesis concerning the delayed rise of present-day mammals during the Eocene Period.
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Methods to infer the ancestral conditions of life are commonly based on geological and paleontological analyses. Recently, several studies used genome sequences to gain information about past ecological conditions taking advantage of the property that the G+C and amino acid contents of bacterial and archaeal ribosomal DNA genes and proteins, respectively, are strongly influenced by the environmental temperature. The adaptation to optimal growth temperature (OGT) since the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) over the universal tree of life was examined, and it was concluded that LUCA was likely to have been a mesophilic organism and that a parallel adaptation to high temperature occurred independently along the two lineages leading to the ancestors of Bacteria on one side and of Archaea and Eukarya on the other side. Here, we focus on Archaea to gain a precise view of the adaptation to OGT over time in this domain. It has been often proposed on the basis of indirect evidence that the last archaeal common ancestor was a hyperthermophilic organism. Moreover, many results showed the influence of environmental temperature on the evolutionary dynamics of archaeal genomes: Thermophilic organisms generally display lower evolutionary rates than mesophiles. However, to our knowledge, no study tried to explain the differences of evolutionary rates for the entire archaeal domain and to investigate the evolution of substitution rates over time. A comprehensive archaeal phylogeny and a non homogeneous model of the molecular evolutionary process allowed us to estimate ancestral base and amino acid compositions and OGTs at each internal node of the archaeal phylogenetic tree. The last archaeal common ancestor is predicted to have been hyperthermophilic and adaptations to cooler environments can be observed for extant mesophilic species. Furthermore, mesophilic species present both long branches and high variation of nucleotide and amino acid compositions since the last archaeal common ancestor. The increase of substitution rates observed in mesophilic lineages along all their branches can be interpreted as an ongoing adaptation to colder temperatures and to new metabolisms. We conclude that environmental temperature is a major factor that governs evolutionary rates in Archaea.
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Phylogenomics has largely succeeded in its aim of accurately inferring species trees, even when there are high levels of discordance among individual gene trees. These resolved species trees can be used to ask many questions about trait evolution, including the direction of change and number of times traits have evolved. However, the mapping of traits onto trees generally uses only a single representation of the species tree, ignoring variation in the gene trees used to construct it. Recognizing that genes underlie traits, these results imply that many traits follow topologies that are discordant with the species topology. As a consequence, standard methods for character mapping will incorrectly infer the number of times a trait has evolved. This phenomenon, dubbed "hemiplasy," poses many problems in analyses of character evolution. Here we outline these problems, explaining where and when they are likely to occur. We offer several ways in which the possible presence of hemiplasy can be diagnosed, and discuss multiple approaches to dealing with the problems presented by underlying gene tree discordance when carrying out character mapping. Finally, we discuss the implications of hemiplasy for general phylogenetic inference, including the possible drawbacks of the widespread push for "resolved" species trees. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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The identification of genes influencing fitness is central to our understanding of the genetic basis of adaptation and how it shapes phenotypic variation in wild populations. Here, we used whole genome resequencing of wild Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) to > 50 fold coverage to identify 2.8 million SNPs and genomic regions bearing signatures of directional selection (i.e., selective sweeps). A comparison of SNP diversity between the X chromosome and the autosomes indicated that bighorn males had a dramatically reduced long term effective population size compared to females. This likely reflects a long history of intense sexual selection mediated by male-male competition for mates. Selective sweep scans based on heterozygosity and nucleotide diversity revealed evidence for a selective sweep shared across multiple populations at RXFP2, a gene that strongly affects horn size in domestic ungulates. The massive horns carried by bighorn rams appear to have evolved in part via strong positive selection at RXFP2. We identified evidence for selection within individual populations at genes affecting early body growth and cellular response to hypoxia; however these must be interpreted more cautiously as genetic drift is strong within local populations and may have caused false positives. These results represent a rare example of strong genomic signatures of selection identified at genes with known function in wild populations of a non-model species. Our results also showcase the value of reference genome assemblies from agricultural or model species for studies of the genomic basis of adaptation in closely related wild taxa. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Reconstructing the ancestral characteristics of species is a major goal in evolutionary and comparative biology. Unfortunately, fossils are not always available and sufficiently informative, and phylogenetic methods based on models of character evolution can be unsatisfactory. Genomic data offer a new opportunity to estimate ancestral character states, through (i) the correlation between DNA evolutionary processes and species life-history traits and (ii) available reliable methods for ancestral sequence inference. Here, we assess the relevance of mitochondrial DNA – the most popular molecular marker in animals – as a predictor of ancestral life-history traits in mammals, using the order of Cetartiodactyla as a benchmark. Using the complete set of 13 mitochondrial protein-coding genes, we show that the lineage-specific nonsynonymous over synonymous substitution rate ratio (dN/dS) is closely correlated with the species body mass, longevity and age of sexual maturity in Cetartiodactyla and can be used as a marker of ancestral traits provided that the noise introduced by short branches is appropriately dealt with. Based on ancestral dN/dS estimates, we predict that the first cetartiodactyls were relatively small animals (around 20 kg). This finding is in accordance with Cope's rule and the fossil record but could not be recovered via continuous character evolution methods.
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Neutral rates of molecular evolution vary across species, and this variation has been shown to be related to biological traits. One of the first patterns to be observed in vertebrates has been an inverse relationship between body mass (BM) and substitution rates. The effects of three major life-history traits (LHT) that covary with BM - metabolic rate, generation time and longevity (LON) - have been invoked to explain this relationship. However, most of the theoretical and empirical evidence supporting this relationship comes from endothermic vertebrates, that is, mammals and birds, in which the environmental conditions, especially temperature, do not have a direct impact on cellular and molecular biology. We analysed the variations in mitochondrial and nuclear rates of synonymous substitution across 224 turtle species and examined their correlation with two LHT (LON and BM) and two environmental variables [latitude (LAT) and habitat]. Our analyses indicate that in turtles, neutral rates of molecular evolution are hardly correlated with LON or BM. Rather, both the mitochondrial and nuclear substitution rates are significantly correlated with LAT - faster evolution in the tropics - and especially so for aquatic species. These results question the generality of the relationships reported in mammals and birds and suggest that environmental factors might be the strongest determinants of the mutation rate in ectotherms.
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— Methods of ancestor reconstruction are important tools for evolutionary inference that are difficult to test empirically because ancestral states are rarely known with certainty. We evaluated reconstruction methods for continuous phenotypic characters using taxa from an experimentally generated bacteriophage phylogeny. Except for one slowly evolving character, the estimated ancestral states of continuous phenotypic characters were highly inaccurate and biased, even when including a known ancestor at the root. This error was caused by a directional trend in character evolution and by rapid rates of character evolution. Computer simulations confirmed that such factors affect reconstruction of continuous characters in general. We also used phenotypic viral characters to evaluate two methods that attempt to estimate the correlation between characters during evolution. Whereas a nonphylogenetic regression was relatively inaccurate and biased, independent contrasts accurately estimated the correlation between characters with little bias.
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Violation of the molecular clock has been amply documented, and is now routinely taken into account by molecular dating methods. Comparative analyses have revealed a systematic component in rate variation, relating it to the evolution of life-history traits, such as body size or generation time. Life-history evolution can be reconstructed using Brownian models. However, the resulting estimates are typically uncertain, and potentially sensitive to the underlying assumptions. As a way of obtaining more accurate ancestral trait and divergence time reconstructions, correlations between life-history traits and substitution rates could be used as an additional source of information. In this direction, a Bayesian framework for jointly reconstructing rates, traits, and dates was previously introduced. Here, we apply this model to a 17 protein-coding gene alignment for 73 placental taxa. Our analysis indicates that the coupling between molecules and life history can lead to a reevaluation of ancestral life-history profiles, in particular for groups displaying convergent evolution in body size. However, reconstructions are sensitive to fossil calibrations and to the Brownian assumption. Altogether, our analysis suggests that further integrating inference of rates and traits might be particularly useful for neontological macroevolutionary comparative studies.
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Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies offer the opportunity for population genomic study of non-model organisms sampled in the wild. The transcriptome is a convenient and popular target for such purposes. However, designing genetic markers from NGS transcriptome data requires assembling gene-coding sequences out of short reads. This is a complex task owing to gene duplications, genetic polymorphism, alternative splicing and transcription noise. Typical assembling programmes return thousands of predicted contigs, whose connection to the species true gene content is unclear, and from which SNP definition is uneasy. Here, the transcriptomes of five diverse non-model animal species (hare, turtle, ant, oyster and tunicate) were assembled from newly generated 454 and Illumina sequence reads. In two species for which a reference genome is available, a new procedure was introduced to annotate each predicted contig as either a full-length cDNA, fragment, chimera, allele, paralogue, genomic sequence or other, based on the number of, and overlap between, blast hits to the appropriate reference. Analyses showed that (i) the highest quality assemblies are obtained when 454 and Illumina data are combined, (ii) typical de novo assemblies include a majority of irrelevant cDNA predictions and (iii) assemblies can be appropriately cleaned by filtering contigs based on length and coverage. We conclude that robust, reference-free assembly of thousands of genes from transcriptomic NGS data is possible, opening promising perspectives for transcriptome-based population genomics in animals. A Galaxy pipeline implementing our best-performing assembling strategy is provided.
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Correlations do not estimate the number of times that a trait evolved, and they are insensitive to the direction or the temporal sequence of character transformation. In contrast, cladograms can provide this information. A cladistic test of the hypothesis that the evolution of dioecy is favored in animal-dispersed plants indicates that dioecy may have originated somewhat more often in such lineages. Nevertheless, differences in rates of speciation or extinction must largely account for the observed species-level correlation between dispersal and breeding system. Determining whether a feature and a performance advantage were strictly historically correlated or followed one another in sequence helps to distinguish whether the trait is an adaptation or an exaptation for the function. Cladograms of seed plants suggest that double fertilization arose incidentally prior to the origin of angiosperms and that the resulting product was later co-opted and elaborated as a nutritive tissue for the developing embryo. The order of character assembly in a lineage also bears on the evolution of functional and developmental interdependencies. In particular, it may be possible to trace the evolution of a character's "burden' from an initial period, during which change is more likely, through later stages, wherein successful modification is less likely owing to the evolution of dependent characters. The evolution of vessels and of floral phyllotaxis in angiosperms may exemplify this pattern. -from Author
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The order Cetartiodactyla includes cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) that are found in all oceans and seas, as well as in some rivers, and artiodactyls (ruminants, pigs, peccaries, hippos, camels and llamas) that are present on all continents, except Antarctica and until recent invasions, Australia. There are currently 332 recognized cetartiodactyl species, which are classified into 132 genera and 22 families. Most phylogenetic studies have focused on deep relationships, and no comprehensive time-calibrated tree for the group has been published yet. In this study, 128 new complete mitochondrial genomes of Cetartiodactyla were sequenced and aligned with those extracted from nucleotide databases. Our alignment includes 14,902 unambiguously aligned nucleotide characters for 210 taxa, representing 183 species, 107 genera, and all cetartiodactyl families. Our mtDNA data produced a statistically robust tree, which is largely consistent with previous classifications. However, a few taxa were found to be para- or polyphyletic, including the family Balaenopteridae, as well as several genera and species. Accordingly, we propose several taxonomic changes in order to render the classification compatible with our molecular phylogeny. In some cases, the results can be interpreted as possible taxonomic misidentification or evidence for mtDNA introgression. The existence of three new cryptic species of Ruminantia should therefore be confirmed by further analyses using nuclear data. We estimate divergence times using Bayesian relaxed molecular clock models. The deepest nodes appeared very sensitive to prior assumptions leading to unreliable estimates, primarily because of the misleading effects of rate heterogeneity, saturation and divergent outgroups. In addition, we detected that Whippomorpha contains slow-evolving taxa, such as large whales and hippos, as well as fast-evolving taxa, such as river dolphins. Our results nevertheless indicate that the evolutionary history of cetartiodactyls was punctuated by four main phases of rapid radiation during the Cenozoic era: the sudden occurrence of the three extant lineages within Cetartiodactyla (Cetruminantia, Suina and Tylopoda); the basal diversification of Cetacea during the Early Oligocene; and two radiations that involve Cetacea and Pecora, one at the Oligocene/Miocene boundary and the other in the Middle Miocene. In addition, we show that the high species diversity now observed in the families Bovidae and Cervidae accumulated mainly during the Late Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene.
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Global regressions of ecological population densities on body mass for mammals and for terrestrial animals as a whole show that local population energy-use is approximately independent of adult body mass—over a body mass range spanning more than 11 orders of magnitude. This independence is represented by the slope of the regressions approximating –0.75, the reciprocal of the way that individual metabolic requirements scale with body mass. The pattern still holds for mammalian primary consumers when the data are broken down by geographic area, by broad habitat-type and by individual community. Slopes for mammalian secondary consumers are also not statistically distinguishable from –0.75. For any given body mass temperate herbivores maintain on average population densities of 1.5 to 2.0 times those of tropical ones, though slopes do not differ. Terrestrial animals of all sizes exhibit approximately the same range of population energy-use values. These results agree with those reported for population energy-budgets. It is suggested that rough independence of body mass and the energy-use of local populations is a widespread rule of animal ecology and community structure.
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Comparative studies of the relationship between 2 phenotypes, or between a phenotype and an environment, are frequently carried out by invalid statistical methods. Most regression, correlation, and contingency table methods, including nonparametric methods, assume that the points are drawn independently from a common distribution. When species are taken from a branching phylogeny, they are manifestly nonindependent. Use of a statistical method that assumes independence will cause overstatement of the significance in hypothesis tests. Some illustrative examples of these phenomena are given, and limitations of previous proposals of ways to correct for the nonindependence discussed. A method of correcting for the phylogeny is proposed. It requires that we know both the tree topology and the branch lengths, and that we be willing to allow the characters to be modeled by Brownian motion on a linear scale. Given these conditions, the phylogeny specifies a set of contrasts among species, contrasts that are statistically independent and can be used in regression or correlation studies. -from Author