Morphological Variation of the Forelimb and Claw in Neotropical Sigmodontine Rodents (Rodentia: Cricetidae)
A phylogenetic comparative method is proposed for estimating historical effects on comparative data using the partitions that compose a cladogram, i.e., its monophyletic groups. Two basic matrices, Y and X, are defined in the context of an ordinary linear model. Y contains the comparative data measured over t taxa. X consists of an initial tree matrix that contains all the xj monophyletic groups (each coded separately as a binary indicator variable) of the phylogenetic tree available for those taxa. The method seeks to define the subset of groups, i.e., a reduced tree matrix, that best explains the patterns in Y. This definition is accomplished via regression or canonical ordination (depending on the dimensionality of Y) coupled with Monte Carlo permutations. It is argued here that unrestricted permutations (i.e., under an equiprobable model) are valid for testing this specific kind of groupwise hypothesis. Phylogeny is either partialled out or, more properly, incorporated into the analysis in the form of component variation. Direct extensions allow for testing ecomorphological data controlled by phylogeny in a variation partitioning approach. Currently available statistical techniques make this method applicable under most univariate/multivariate models and metrics; two-way phylogenetic effects can be estimated as well. The simplest case (univariate Y), tested with simulations, yielded acceptable type I error rates. Applications presented include examples from evolutionary ethology, ecology, and ecomorphology. Results showed that the new technique detected previously overlooked variation clearly associated with phylogeny and that many phylogenetic effects on comparative data may occur at particular groups rather than across the entire tree.