Understanding Phylogenetic Trees-005:33

Understanding Phylogenetic Trees-0

Phylogenetics and how its used to trace evolution.

Phylogenetics shows relationships among groups of organisms.

Reconstructing Our PastEdit

Phylogenetics, also known as phylogenetic systematics, is a field in the biological sciences which attempts to reconstruct evolutionary history and studies the relationships between organisims and classifies those relationships in some fashion - species, population, family, clade, etc. and ultimately showing those relationships on a phylogenetic tree.

These phylogenetic trees, with their patterns of branching, represents the descent from a common ancestor into distinct lineages.


There are several methods used in phylogenetics to help construct a tree and those include persimony, liklihood and distance methods:

  • Parsimony entails finding the simplest answer or in the case of the phylogenetic tree, the one with the fewest evolutionary changes.
  • Liklihood or Bayseian approach uses statistical analysis to find the highest probablity for selecting a phylogenetic tree
  • Distance method uses a distance matrix to assess the distance between organisms by evaluating their distance from a common ancestor. It's assumed that the closer organisms are to a common ancestor, the more alike they will be.

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