Project 409: M. Wolsan, J. J. Sato. 2010. Effects of data incompleteness on the relative performance of parsimony and Bayesian approaches in a supermatrix phylogenetic reconstruction of Mustelidae and Procyonidae (Carnivora). Cladistics. 26 (2):168-194.
Specimen: Mustela nivalis (unvouchered)


Missing data are commonly thought to impede a resolved or accurate reconstruction of phylogenetic relationships, and
probabilistic analysis techniques are increasingly viewed as less vulnerable to the negative effects of data incompleteness than
parsimony analyses. We test both assumptions empirically by conducting parsimony and Bayesian analyses on an approximately 1.5 · 106-cell (27 965 characters · 52 species) mustelid–procyonid molecular supermatrix with 62.7% missing entries. Contrary to the first assumption, phylogenetic relationships inferred from our analyses are fully (Bayesian) or almost fully (parsimony) resolvedtopologically with mostly strong support and also largely in accord with prior molecular estimations of mustelid and procyonid phylogeny derived with parsimony, Bayesian, and other probabilistic analysis techniques from smaller but complete or nearly complete data sets. Contrary to the second assumption, we found no compelling evidence in support of a relationship between the inferior performance of parsimony and taxon incompleteness (i.e. the proportion of missing character data for a taxon), although we found evidence for a connection between the inferior performance of parsimony and character incompleteness (i.e. no overlap in character data between some taxa). The relatively good performance of our analyses may be related to the large number of sampled characters, so that most taxa (even highly incomplete ones) are represented by a sufficient number of characters allowing both approaches to resolve their relationships.

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Project DOI: 10.7934/P409,
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MorphoBank Project 409
  • Creation Date:
    13 September 2010
  • Publication Date:
    13 September 2010
  • Project views: 13713

    Authors' Institutions

    • Polish Academy of Sciences

    • Fukuyama University


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    MorphoBank Curator
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    Maureen Admin
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    Seth Kaufman

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