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Syst Biol. 2013 Nov;62(6):789-804. doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syt040. Epub 2013 Jun 4.

Bayesian analysis of biogeography when the number of areas is large.

Author information

1
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3140, USA; Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, Storer Hall, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA; and Biology Department, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Abstract

Historical biogeography is increasingly studied from an explicitly statistical perspective, using stochastic models to describe the evolution of species range as a continuous-time Markov process of dispersal between and extinction within a set of discrete geographic areas. The main constraint of these methods is the computational limit on the number of areas that can be specified. We propose a Bayesian approach for inferring biogeographic history that extends the application of biogeographic models to the analysis of more realistic problems that involve a large number of areas. Our solution is based on a "data-augmentation" approach, in which we first populate the tree with a history of biogeographic events that is consistent with the observed species ranges at the tips of the tree. We then calculate the likelihood of a given history by adopting a mechanistic interpretation of the instantaneous-rate matrix, which specifies both the exponential waiting times between biogeographic events and the relative probabilities of each biogeographic change. We develop this approach in a Bayesian framework, marginalizing over all possible biogeographic histories using Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC). Besides dramatically increasing the number of areas that can be accommodated in a biogeographic analysis, our method allows the parameters of a given biogeographic model to be estimated and different biogeographic models to be objectively compared. Our approach is implemented in the program, BayArea.

PMID:
23736102
PMCID:
PMC4064008
DOI:
10.1093/sysbio/syt040
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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