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Re: Benton et al.'s Supertree (longer)



> But what makes a supertree better than an all-inclusive standard parsimony
> analysis?

Couldn't agree more with your post in the main - I haven't examined the
Benton paper in depth, but this has prompted me to do so. With ref. To the
above, I'd say that their benefits are two-fold. Firstly they are extremely
efficient in terms of investigator hours and data utilisation. If you're
using a supertree as a tool for comparative analysis, or you need to
generate a phylogeny estimate quickly for a group where a total
evidence/character analyses has yet to be done, then they're the best method
in existence at the moment (unless you have the time, resources and
systematic expertise to tackle an entire group yourself). Secondly (and I
stress this is anecdotal) they seem to be a lot more accurate in many cases
than the shortfalls in the method may lead one to expect. We've been using
MRP trees within the lab for about 7 years, and for the major mammalian
clades they seem to have hit a happy medium in that they haven't severely
disagreed with subsequent data-based analyses in any major way. I'm sure
this will happen over time, but they've certainly repayed the investment
over this time scale.

Best wishes,

Rich