Phyloseminar (Wed 3/16): Making comparative methods as easy as ABC

Brian O’Meara (University of Tennessee, NIMBioS) speaks Wednesday, March 16th at 2pm EST on “Making comparative methods as easy as ABC.” The seminar will take place online and anyone can participate. Instructions on how to join can be found at a


For decades, biologists have addressed evolutionary and ecological questions using measurements of species traits, phylogenies, and an assortment of comparative methods. Unfortunately, while there is a large assortment of these methods, they are still fairly limited and development of new methods is slow. It took seven years between the introduction of using a simple Brownian motion model for looking at trait evolution (Felsenstein, 1985) and the use of this same model for looking at rates of trait evolution (Garland, 1992), and an additional 14 years to more powerful tests using a small modification of the basic model (O’Meara et al., 2006). Still other promising methods are described and even tested but remain unavailable to empiricists because they are not put into software. As a result, the questions empiricists can ask about the world are limited by the research productivity of the few dozen scientists who develop and implement new methods in phylogenetics. We describe a new approach based on Approximate Bayesian Computation and implemented in R that will allow researchers to easily develop their own models for trait evolution without requiring them to have specialized mathematical or computational knowledge.

Japan 03:00 (03:00 AM) on Thursday, March 17
New Zealand 07:00 (07:00 AM) on Thursday, March 17
West Coast USA 11:00 (11:00 AM) on Wednesday, March 16
East Coast USA 14:00 (02:00 PM) on Wednesday, March 16
England 18:00 (06:00 PM) on Wednesday, March 16
France 19:00 (07:00 PM) on Wednesday, March 16

For more information on how to attend this and other seminars, visit