Dr. Jan Schnitzler / Daniele Silvestro:
A Bayesian framework to estimate speciation and extinction rates and their variation through time
Patterns of species diversity are the result of speciation and extinction processes, and molecular phylogenetic data provide information to derive their temporal variability. We introduce a new approach to estimate diversification rates in a Bayesian framework over a distribution of trees under various constant and variable rate birth-death and pure-birth models. Tests using simulated data show that the approach provides accurate estimates of the diversification rates and timing of rate shifts, despite wide 95% HPD intervals on the extinction rates. Furthermore, we use Bayes factors tests to distinguish between different modes of diversification, potentially leading to similar distributions of branching times. This approach provides a flexible framework for parameter estimation and hypothesis testing while accounting for uncertainties in the divergence times, thus providing more appropriate inferences of the temporal dynamics of species diversifications.