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The accuracy of species tree estimation under simulation: a comparison of methods.

TitleThe accuracy of species tree estimation under simulation: a comparison of methods.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsLeaché AD, Rannala B
JournalSystematic biology
Date Published2011 Mar
Keywordsclassification, Bayes Theorem, Computer Simulation, Genetic Speciation, Phylogeny, plants

Numerous simulation studies have investigated the accuracy of phylogenetic inference of gene trees under maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian techniques. The relative accuracy of species tree inference methods under simulation has received less study. The number of analytical techniques available for inferring species trees is increasing rapidly, and in this paper, we compare the performance of several species tree inference techniques at estimating recent species divergences using computer simulation. Simulating gene trees within species trees of different shapes and with varying tree lengths (T) and population sizes (), and evolving sequences on those gene trees, allows us to determine how phylogenetic accuracy changes in relation to different levels of deep coalescence and phylogenetic signal. When the probability of discordance between the gene trees and the species tree is high (i.e., T is small and/or is large), Bayesian species tree inference using the multispecies coalescent (BEST) outperforms other methods. The performance of all methods improves as the total length of the species tree is increased, which reflects the combined benefits of decreasing the probability of discordance between species trees and gene trees and gaining more accurate estimates for gene trees. Decreasing the probability of deep coalescences by reducing also leads to accuracy gains for most methods. Increasing the number of loci from 10 to 100 improves accuracy under difficult demographic scenarios (i.e., coalescent units &le; 4N(e)), but 10 loci are adequate for estimating the correct species tree in cases where deep coalescence is limited or absent. In general, the correlation between the phylogenetic accuracy and the posterior probability values obtained from BEST is high, although posterior probabilities are overestimated when the prior distribution for is misspecified.</p>

Alternate JournalSyst. Biol.