Bayesian Tip-Dated Phylogenetics in Paleontology: Topological Effects and Stratigraphic Fit.


King B(1)(2).
Author information:
(1)Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Postbus 9517, 2300 RA, Leiden, The Netherlands.
(2)College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia 5042, Australia.


The incorporation of stratigraphic data into phylogenetic analysis has a long history of debate but is not currently standard practice for paleontologists. Bayesian tip-dated (or morphological clock) phylogenetic methods have returned these arguments to the spotlight, but how tip dating affects the recovery of evolutionary relationships has yet to be fully explored. Here I show, through analysis of several data sets with multiple phylogenetic methods, that topologies produced by tip dating are outliers as compared to topologies produced by parsimony and undated Bayesian methods, which retrieve broadly similar trees. Unsurprisingly, trees recovered by tip dating have better fit to stratigraphy than trees recovered by other methods under both the Gap Excess Ratio (GER) and the Stratigraphic Completeness Index (SCI). This is because trees with better stratigraphic fit are assigned a higher likelihood by the fossilized birth-death tree model. However, the degree to which the tree model favors tree topologies with high stratigraphic fit metrics is modulated by the diversification dynamics of the group under investigation. In particular, when net diversification rate is low, the tree model favors trees with a higher GER compared to when net diversification rate is high. Differences in stratigraphic fit and tree topology between tip dating and other methods are concentrated in parts of the tree with weaker character signal, as shown by successive deletion of the most incomplete taxa from two data sets. These results show that tip dating incorporates stratigraphic data in an intuitive way, with good stratigraphic fit an expectation that can be overturned by strong evidence from character data. [fossilized birth-death; fossils; missing data; morphological clock; morphology; parsimony; phylogenetics.].