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J Evol Biol. 2009 Jul;22(7):1367-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01757.x. Epub 2009 Jun 5.

The seven deadly sins of comparative analysis.

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Department of Animal & Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. r.freckleton@sheffield.ac.uk

Abstract

Phylogenetic comparative methods are extremely commonly used in evolutionary biology. In this paper, I highlight some of the problems that are frequently encountered in comparative analyses and review how they can be fixed. In broad terms, the problems boil down to a lack of appreciation of the underlying assumptions of comparative methods, as well as problems with implementing methods in a manner akin to more familiar statistical approaches. I highlight that the advent of more flexible computing environments should improve matters and allow researchers greater scope to explore methods and data.

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