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Evolution. 2006 Jul;60(7):1509-15.

A comment on phylogenetic correction.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York 11794-5245, USA.


Statistical methods are now commonly used to take into account the expected lack of independence of observations across different species (due to their phylogenetic relatedness) when computing correlations or regressions among traits. The methods are often interpreted as removing that part of the regression or correlation that is an artifact due to phylogeny and there is an expectation that the corrected regression or correlation coefficients will usually be closer to zero. It is shown here that this is not an accurate way to interpret these methods. The effect of taking phylogeny into account is to reduce the variance of the estimated regression or correlation coefficients. Their means are not because since estimates of regression coefficients are unbiased whether or not the correct phylogeny is taken into account. Estimates of correlations are only slightly biased (and in the opposite direction that many expect).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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