Open Conference Systems, 50th Scientific meeting of the Italian Statistical Society

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Stochastic network modelling of the evolutionary tree
Ernst C. Wit

Last modified: 2018-05-18


The mechanisms that control the diversification of species are poorly understood. Sophisticated diversification models have been developed, but they have been developed on a case-by-case basis and no general method to study the combined effect of ecological factors exists.Such a general method has remained elusive for several reasons. Firstly, evolutionary processes have extremely complex dynamics. Secondly, decay and fossilization degrade crucial evidence useful for phylogenetic analyses. Thirdly, diversification processes have many potential explanatory variables, which increases the dimensionality of the models enormously.To overcome these issues, we propose a general diversification model expressing the evolutionary species diversification dynamics as a combination of two generalized linear models. The fact that we typically only have data on currently existing species can be described as a missing data problem and we developed an MCEM-type algorithm for it. We show that our method performs well for cases where an exact solution is available, and discuss potential future usage of our approach.


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