The phylogeny of Cetartiodactyla: The importance of dense taxon sampling, missing data, and the remarkable promise of cytochrome b to provide reliable species-level phylogenies

Author(s)Ingi Agnarsson and Laura J. May-Collado
Year Published2008
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Page Numbers964-985
Size1.73 MB
Abstract:

We perform Bayesian phylogenetic analyses on cytochrome b sequences from 264 of the 290 extant cetartiodactyl mammals (whales plus even-toed ungulates) and two recently extinct species, the ‘Mouse Goat’ and the ‘Irish Elk’. Previous primary analyses have included only a small portion of the species diversity within Cetartiodactyla, while a complete supertree analysis lacks resolution and branch lengths limiting its utility for comparative studies. The benefits of using a single-gene approach include rapid phylogenetic estimates for a large number of species. However, single-gene phylogenies often differ dramatically from studies involving multiple datasets suggesting that they often are unreliable. However, based on recovery of benchmark clades—clades supported in prior studies based on multiple independent datasets—and recovery of undisputed traditional taxonomic groups, Cytb performs extraordinarily well in resolving cetartiodactyl phylogeny when taxon sampling is dense. Missing data, however, (taxa with partial sequences) can compromise phylogenetic accuracy, suggesting a tradeoff between the benefits of adding taxa and introducing question marks. In the full data, a few species with a short sequences appear misplaced, however, sequence length alone seems a poor predictor of this phenomenon as other taxa with equally short sequences were not conspicuously misplaced. Although we recommend awaiting a better supported phylogeny based on more character data to reconsider classification and taxonomy within Cetartiodactyla, the new phylogenetic hypotheses provided here represent the currently best available tool for comparative species-level studies within this group. Cytb has been sequenced for a large percentage of mammals and appears to be a reliable phylogenetic marker as long as taxon sampling is dense. Therefore, an opportunity exists now to reconstruct detailed phylogenies of most of the major mammalian clades to rapidly provide much needed tools for species-level comparative studies.

Keywords: Adding taxa, Antilocapridae, Bovidae, Cervidae, Cetacea, Cetancodonta, Giraffidae, Mammalia, Missing data, Mitochondrial DNA, Moschidae, Mysticeti, Odontoceti, Pecora, Perissodactyla, Phylogeny of mammals, Ruminantia, Suina, Taxon sampling, Tragulidae
Authors: Ingi Agnarsson and Laura J. May-Collado
Journal: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution


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