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Data from: A simulation-based evaluation of tip-dating under the fossilized birth-death process

Citation

Luo, Arong et al. (2019), Data from: A simulation-based evaluation of tip-dating under the fossilized birth-death process, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q2527ts

Abstract

Bayesian molecular dating is widely used to study evolutionary timescales. This procedure usually involves phylogenetic analysis of nucleotide sequence data, with fossil-based calibrations applied as age constraints on internal nodes of the tree. An alternative approach is tip-dating, which explicitly includes fossil data in the analysis. This can be done, for example, through the joint analysis of molecular data from present-day taxa and morphological data from both extant and fossil taxa. In the context of tip-dating, an important development has been the fossilized birth-death process, which allows non-contemporaneous tips and sampled ancestors while providing a model of lineage diversification for the prior on the tree topology and internal node times. However, tip-dating with fossils faces a number of considerable challenges, especially those associated with fossil sampling and evolutionary models for morphological characters. We conducted a simulation study to evaluate the performance of tip-dating using the fossilized birth-death model. We simulated fossil occurrences and the evolution of nucleotide sequences and morphological characters under a wide range of conditions. Our analyses of these data show that the number and the maximum age of fossil occurrences have a greater influence than the degree of among-lineage rate variation or the number of morphological characters on estimates of node times and the tree topology. Tip-dating with the fossilized birth-death model generally performs well in recovering the relationships among extant taxa, but has difficulties in correctly placing fossil taxa in the tree and identifying the number of sampled ancestors. The method yields accurate estimates of the ages of the root and crown group, although the precision of these estimates varies with the probability of fossil occurrence. The exclusion of morphological characters results in a slight overestimation of node times, whereas the exclusion of nucleotide sequences has a negative impact on inference of the tree topology. Our results provide an overview of the performance of tip-dating using the fossilized birth-death model, which will inform further development of the method and its application to key questions in evolutionary biology.

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