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Bioessays. 2005 Nov;27(11):1158-66.

Hierarchical phylogenetics as a quantitative analytical framework for evolutionary developmental biology.

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  • 1Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA.


Phylogenetics has inherent utility in evolutionary developmental biology (EDB) as it is an established methodology for estimating evolutionary relationships and for making comparisons between levels of biological organization. However, explicit phylogenetic methods generally have been limited to two levels of organization in EDB-the species and the gene. We demonstrate that phylogenetic methods can be applied broadly to other organizational levels, such as morphological structures or cell types, to identify evolutionary patterns. We present examples at and between different hierarchical levels of organization to address questions central to EDB. We argue that this application of "hierarchical phylogenetics" can be a unifying analytical approach to the field of EDB.

Copyright (c) 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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