Testing for different rates of continuous trait evolution using likelihood

Brian C. O'Meara, Ané Cécile, Michael J. Sanderson, Peter C. Wainwright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

490 Scopus citations


Rates of phenotypic evolution have changed throughout the history of life, producing variation in levels of morphological, functional, and ecological diversity among groups. Testing for the presence of these rate shifts is a key component of evaluating hypotheses about what causes them. In this paper, general predictions regarding changes in phenotypic diversity as a function of evolutionary history and rates are developed, and tests are derived to evaluate rate changes. Simulations show that these tests are more powerful than existing tests using standardized contrasts. The new approaches are distributed in an application called Brownie and in r8s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)922-933
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Brownian motion
  • Brownie
  • Comparative method
  • Continuous characters
  • Disparity
  • Morphological evolution
  • Rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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