The molecular comparative method: Bayesian integrative models of macro-evolutionary processes

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Date(s) - 09/06/2015
11 h 00 min - 12 h 00 min


Estimating divergence times, understanding molecular evolutionary mechanisms, or testing macroevolutionary hypotheses about patterns of diversification and morphological evolution, are usually considered as separate research questions, adressed by distinct, although overlapping, scientific communities. Yet, many connections would deserve to be made between these various topics in evolutionary sciences. Over the last years, several attempts at integrating some of these various aspects of macro-evolutionary sciences have been made, using hierarchical modeling approaches. After reviewing them, I will more specifically present a Bayesian framework for modeling the macroevolutionary process in an integrative manner. This framework can be seen as a fusion between the classical comparative method and methods for divergence time estimation. Taking as an input a multiple sequence alignment, data about life-history traits of extant species, and fossil calibrations, it then jointly estimates divergence times, life-history evolution and correlations between substitution patterns and quantitative traits. Application of the method to placental mammals reveals extensive correlations between life-history and molecular evolution, providing stimulating observations for testing macroevolutionary hypotheses.


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