Statistics Seminar: Ben Bolker - Estimating state-dependent evolutionary rates: parental care, sperm competition, and fish accessory glands
Speaker: Ben Bolker, McMaster University
Title: Estimating state-dependent evolutionary rates: parental care, sperm competition, and fish accessory glands
Abstract: Biologists often want to understand why certain traits of organisms evolved. One way of translating this question into a statistical context is to set up a continuous-time, discrete-state Markov process along the branches of a phylogenetic tree and estimate how the evolutionary rates (log-hazards of changes in particular states) vary depending on the current values of other traits. Using an example from fish biology I will explain how to estimate the log-likelihood of a set of tip states given a transition matrix; based on this computation we can use standard MCMC techniques to estimate linear contrasts that describe the effects of one biological trait on the evolutionary rate of another trait. I hope to rant briefly about statistical philosophy (scientists and many other people have been brainwashed into thinking that they should make discrete categorical predictions and test discrete hypotheses: quantifying rates and probabilities is usually much more useful).
Date/Time: Tuesday January 17, 2023, 3:30 - 5:00
Location: MDCL 1115