[Taxacom] Lecture by Felsenstein to Systematics Association

William Baker W.Baker at kew.org
Thu Jun 5 04:46:32 CDT 2008


Taxacom-subscribers based in the UK or nearby may be interested in attending the following lecture:

The Systematics Association Sir Julian Huxley Lecture

Not the Fly on the Wall:
Can Systematists Cope with Uncertainty?

Prof. Joe Felsenstein
Department of Genome Sciences and Department of Biology
University of Washington, Seattle

The Linnean Society,
Burlington House, Piccadilly, London

Wednesday 2nd July 2008, 6pm

The meeting is open to visitors
Wine will be served after the lecture to members and guests

Abstract:
In reconstruction of molecular phylogenies, biologists have largely shifted their emphasis from inferring a single phylogeny to being comfortable with statistical descriptions of the uncertainty about it, whether by using bootstrapping, jackknifing, or Bayesian posteriors. Similar developments for morphological and behavioral characters have been slower in coming, as there have been fewer defensible statistical models available. The spread of statistical approaches to the comparative method is changing that. I will describe some new developments in statistical models for discrete as well as continuous morphological characters. They can infer correlations of character change across a phylogeny. However these inferences must necessarily be very noisy and uncertain. How will systematists and other evolutionary biologists cope with this uncertainty, if they cannot look forward to further molecular sequencing reducing it? Can we make use of the information without ignoring its uncertainties or overreacting to them? If we cannot hope for an exact account of actually what happened in evolution, is despair inevitable?

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William J. Baker PhD
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AE
Tel: +44 20 8332 5224
Fax: +44 20 8332 5278
www.palmweb.org
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Please note that due to works on the new Herbarium building, there will be disruption to visitor services and access to the collections.  Please contact us for details before arranging any visits for 2008/9.




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