Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Data from: Tree imbalance causes a bias in phylogenetic estimation of evolutionary timescales using heterochronous sequences

Citation

Duchêne, David; Duchêne, Sebastián; Ho, Simon Y. W. (2014), Data from: Tree imbalance causes a bias in phylogenetic estimation of evolutionary timescales using heterochronous sequences, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q4545

Abstract

Phylogenetic estimation of evolutionary timescales has become routine in biology, forming the basis of a wide range of evolutionary and ecological studies. However, there are various sources of bias that can affect these estimates. We investigated whether tree imbalance, a property that is commonly observed in phylogenetic trees, can lead to reduced accuracy or precision of phylogenetic timescale estimates. We analysed simulated data sets with calibrations at internal nodes and at the tips, taking into consideration different calibration schemes and levels of tree imbalance. We also investigated the effect of tree imbalance on two empirical data sets: mitogenomes from primates and serial samples of the African swine fever virus. In analyses calibrated using dated, heterochronous tips, we found that tree imbalance had a detrimental impact on precision and produced a bias in which the overall timescale was underestimated. A pronounced effect was observed in analyses with shallow calibrations. The greatest decreases in accuracy usually occurred in the age estimates for medium and deep nodes of the tree. In contrast, analyses calibrated at internal nodes did not display a reduction in estimation accuracy or precision due to tree imbalance. Our results suggest that molecular-clock analyses can be improved by increasing taxon sampling, with the specific aims of including deeper calibrations, breaking up long branches and reducing tree imbalance.

Usage Notes