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A phylogenetic comparative method for studying multivariate adaptation

Journal article
Authors Krzysztof Bartoszek
Jason Pienaar
Petter Mostad
Staffan Andersson
Thomas F. Hansen
Published in Journal of Theoretical Biology
Volume 314
Pages 204-215
ISSN 0022-5193
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Mathematical Sciences
Department of Mathematical Sciences, Mathematical Statistics
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 204-215
Language en
Keywords Ornstein–Uhlenbeck process, Multivariate phylogenetic comparative method, Adaptation, Optimality, Allometry
Subject categories Probability Theory and Statistics, Evolutionary Biology


Phylogenetic comparative methods have been limited in the way they model adaptation. Although some progress has been made, there are still no methods that can fully account for coadaptation between traits. Based on Ornstein–Uhlenbeck (OU) models of adaptive evolution, we present a method, with R implementation, in which multiple traits evolve both in response to each other and, as in previous OU models, to fixed or randomly evolving predictor variables. We present the interpretation of the model parameters in terms of evolutionary and optimal regressions enabling the study of allometric and adaptive relationships between traits. To illustrate the method we reanalyze a data set of antler and body-size evolution in deer (Cervidae).

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