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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 1997 Jun;7(3):320-30.

Consistency, characters, and the likelihood of correct phylogenetic inference.

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Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706, USA.


Computer simulations of character-state evolution in 8, 16, 32, and 64 ingroup taxa with a known set of relationships demonstrate that the maximum probability of correct phylogenetic inference increases with the number of variable (or informative) characters and their consistency index and decreases with the number of taxa, when the consistency index has been standardized to eliminate its dependence on the number of taxa. Equations for the probability of correct phylogenetic inference and for the standardized consistency indices (including or excluding autapomorphies) are derived. Given that actual studies based on DNA restriction sites and sequences generate more characters with a higher level of consistency than comparable studies based on morphology, calculations suggest that such molecular studies may often provide a more precise guide to phylogenetic relationships.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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