Tracy Heath


Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution & Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, USA

Title: Hierarchical Bayesian methods for analysis of molecular, morphological, and macroevolutionary data

Abstract: Understanding macroevolutionary processes and evolution in deep time requires data from the fossil record. In recent years, advances in phylogenetic inference methods have provided ways to integrate fossil and extant taxa. These approaches allow simultaneous estimation of the divergence times and phylogenetic relationships of extant and fossil species, thus making full use of morphological and temporal data, rather than just molecular sequence data from living species. I will highlight our recent and ongoing work using the fossilized birth-death process to estimate species phylogenies and divergence times. Both simulation and empirical studies demonstrate how making full use of available fossil data and properly modeling lineage sampling and diversification improve estimates of species divergence times.