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Syst Biol. 2006 Aug;55(4):652-61.

A geometric approach to tree shape statistics.

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Program for Evolutionary Dynamics and Department of Mathematics, Harvard University, One Brattle Square, 6th Floor, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


This article presents a new way to quantify the descriptive ability of tree shape statistics. Where before, tree shape statistics were chosen by their ability to distinguish between macroevolutionary models, the resolution presented in this paper quantifies the ability of a statistic to differentiate between similar and different trees. This is termed the geometric approach to differentiate it from the model-based approach previously explored. A distinct advantage of this perspective is that it allows evaluation of multiple tree shape statistics describing different aspects of tree shape. After developing the methodology, it is applied here to make specific recommendations for a suite of three statistics that may prove useful in applications. The article ends with an application of the statistics to clarify the impact of taxa omission on tree shape.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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