Reconstructing phylogenies from allozyme data: Comparing method performance with congruence

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57 Scopus citations


Allozyme data are widely used to infer the phylogenies of populations and closely-related species. Numerous parsimony, distance, and likelihood methods have been proposed for phylogenetic analysis of these data; the relative merits of these methods have been debated vigorously, but their accuracy has not been well explored. In this study, I compare the performance of 13 phylogenetic methods (six parsimony, six distance, and continuous maximum likelihood) by applying a congruence approach to eight allozyme data sets from the literature. Clades are identified that are supported by multiple data sets other than allozymes (e.g. morphology, DNA sequences), and the ability of different methods to recover these 'known' clades is compared. The results suggest that (1) distance and likelihood methods generally outperform parsimony methods, (2) methods that utilize frequency data tend to perform well, and (3) continuous maximum likelihood is among the most accurate methods, and appears to be robust to violations of its assumptions. These results are in agreement with those from recent simulation studies, and help provide a basis for empirical workers to choose among the many methods available for analysing allozyme characters. (C) 2000 The Linnean Society of London.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-632
Number of pages20
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • Accuracy
  • Distance methods
  • Frequency data
  • Maximum likelihood
  • Parsimony methods
  • Polymorphic characters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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