eCite Digital Repository

Identifying Cliques of Convergent Characters: Concerted Evolution in the Cormorants and Shags


Holland, BR and Spencer, HG and Worthy, TH and Kennedy, M, Identifying Cliques of Convergent Characters: Concerted Evolution in the Cormorants and Shags, Systematic Biology, 59, (4) pp. 433-445. ISSN 1063-5157 (2010) [Refereed Article]

Restricted - Request a copy

Copyright Statement

The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at:

Official URL:

DOI: doi:10.1093/sysbio/syq023


A phylogenetic tree comprising clades with high bootstrap values or other strong measures of statistical support is usually interpreted as providing a good estimate of the true phylogeny. Convergent evolution acting on groups of characters in concert, however, can lead to highly supported but erroneous phylogenies. Identifying such groups of phylogenetically misleading characters is obviously desirable. Here we present a procedure that uses an independent data source to identify sets of characters that have undergone concerted convergent evolution. We examine the problematic case of the cormorants and shags, for which trees constructed using osteological and molecular characters both have strong statistical support and yet are fundamentally incongruent. We find that the osteological characters can be separated into those that fit the phylogenetic history implied by the molecular data set and those that do not. Moreover, these latter nonfitting osteological characters are internally consistent and form groups of mutually compatible characters or "cliques," which are significantly larger than cliques of shuffled characters.We suggest, therefore, that these cliques of characters are the result of similar selective pressures and are a signature of concerted convergence.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Character compatibility: concerted convergence: cormorants: homoplasy: incongruence: phylogeny: shags
Research Division:Mathematical Sciences
Research Group:Applied mathematics
Research Field:Biological mathematics
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the mathematical sciences
UTAS Author:Holland, BR (Professor Barbara Holland)
ID Code:65165
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:39
Deposited By:Mathematics
Deposited On:2010-10-07
Last Modified:2011-01-18
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page