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Title: Inferring the Total-Evidence Timescale of Marattialean Fern Evolution in the Face of Model Sensitivity
Abstract Phylogenetic divergence-time estimation has been revolutionized by two recent developments: 1) total-evidence dating (or "tip-dating") approaches that allow for the incorporation of fossils as tips in the analysis, with their phylogenetic and temporal relationships to the extant taxa inferred from the data and 2) the fossilized birth-death (FBD) class of tree models that capture the processes that produce the tree (speciation, extinction, and fossilization) and thus provide a coherent and biologically interpretable tree prior. To explore the behavior of these methods, we apply them to marattialean ferns, a group that was dominant in Carboniferous landscapes prior to declining to its modest extant diversity of slightly over 100 species. We show that tree models have a dramatic influence on estimates of both divergence times and topological relationships. This influence is driven by the strong, counter-intuitive informativeness of the uniform tree prior, and the inherent nonidentifiability of divergence-time models. In contrast to the strong influence of the tree models, we find minor effects of differing the morphological transition model or the morphological clock model. We compare the performance of a large pool of candidate models using a combination of posterior-predictive simulation and Bayes factors. Notably, an FBD model with epoch-specific speciation and extinction rates was strongly favored by Bayes factors. Our best-fitting model infers stem and crown divergences for the Marattiales in the mid-Devonian and Late Cretaceous, respectively, with elevated speciation rates in the Mississippian and elevated extinction rates in the Cisuralian leading to a peak diversity of ${\sim}$2800 species at the end of the Carboniferous, representing the heyday of the Psaroniaceae. This peak is followed by the rapid decline and ultimate extinction of the Psaroniaceae, with their descendants, the Marattiaceae, persisting at approximately stable levels of diversity until the present. This general diversification pattern appears to be insensitive to potential biases in the fossil record; despite the preponderance of available fossils being from Pennsylvanian coal balls, incorporating fossilization-rate variation does not improve model fit. In addition, by incorporating temporal data directly within the model and allowing for the inference of the phylogenetic position of the fossils, our study makes the surprising inference that the clade of extant Marattiales is relatively young, younger than any of the fossils historically thought to be congeneric with extant species. This result is a dramatic demonstration of the dangers of node-based approaches to divergence-time estimation, where the assignment of fossils to particular clades is made a priori (earlier node-based studies that constrained the minimum ages of extant genera based on these fossils resulted in much older age estimates than in our study) and of the utility of explicit models of morphological evolution and lineage diversification. [Bayesian model comparison; Carboniferous; divergence-time estimation; fossil record; fossilized birth–death; lineage diversification; Marattiales; models of morphological evolution; Psaronius; RevBayes.]  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1754705
NSF-PAR ID:
10325508
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Editor(s):
Folk, Ryan
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Systematic Biology
Volume:
70
Issue:
6
ISSN:
1063-5157
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1232 to 1255
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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