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PLoS Biology Issue Image | Vol. 17(12) January 2020

PLoS Biology Issue Image | Vol. 17(12) January 2020

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Inferring the mammal tree: Species-level sets of phylogenies for questions in ecology, evolution, and conservation

Big, time-scaled phylogenies are fundamental to connecting evolutionary processes to modern biodiversity patterns. Yet inferring reliable phylogenetic trees for thousands of species involves numerous trade-offs that have limited their utility to comparative biologists. To establish a robust evolutionary timescale for all approximately 6,000 living species of mammals, Upham et al. developed sets of trees that capture root-to-tip uncertainty in topology and divergence times. Their use of a “backbone-and-patch” approach to tree building resulted in species-level trees of extant Mammalia with all branches estimated under the same modeling framework, thereby facilitating rate comparisons among lineages as disparate as marsupials and placentals. The image shows the node-dated molecular phylogeny of 5,911 extant and recently extinct species shows branches colored with tip-level speciation rates. Radial scale is in millions of years, and the K-Pg boundary is marked with a dashed line.

Image Credit: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000494

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Inferring the mammal tree: Species-level sets of phylogenies for questions in ecology, evolution, and conservation

Big, time-scaled phylogenies are fundamental to connecting evolutionary processes to modern biodiversity patterns. Yet inferring reliable phylogenetic trees for thousands of species involves numerous trade-offs that have limited their utility to comparative biologists. To establish a robust evolutionary timescale for all approximately 6,000 living species of mammals, Upham et al. developed sets of trees that capture root-to-tip uncertainty in topology and divergence times. Their use of a “backbone-and-patch” approach to tree building resulted in species-level trees of extant Mammalia with all branches estimated under the same modeling framework, thereby facilitating rate comparisons among lineages as disparate as marsupials and placentals. The image shows the node-dated molecular phylogeny of 5,911 extant and recently extinct species shows branches colored with tip-level speciation rates. Radial scale is in millions of years, and the K-Pg boundary is marked with a dashed line.

Image Credit: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000494

https://doi.org/10.1371/image.pbio.v17.i12.g001