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Folia Primatol (Basel). 1989;53(1-4):203-20.

Comparative methods for examining adaptation depend on evolutionary models.

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Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK.


Comparisons among taxa provide a powerful means for helping to understand why primate species differ from each other in morphology, behaviour and life history. Comparative tests can also mislead when not applied correctly, and correct application means taking into account the phylogenetic relationships among the species being compared. Adaptation is defined as a comparative concept. The reasons for phenotypic similarity among closely related taxa are summarized. Different models of evolutionary change dictate different methods for reconstructing ancestral character states and for performing comparative analyses on categorical and continuously varying character. All comparative methods rely either implicitly of explicitly on some model of how evolution proceeds. The choice of a particular method of analysis is, therefore, an implicit choice of a model of evolution.

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