Evolutionary inference for function-valued traits: Gaussian process regression on phylogenies

, and . arXiv:1004.4668 (April 2010)Journal of the Royal Society Interface vol. 10 no. 78 20120616 (2013).


Biological data objects often have both of the following features: (i) they are functions rather than single numbers or vectors, and (ii) they are correlated due to phylogenetic relationships. In this paper we give a flexible statistical model for such data, by combining assumptions from phylogenetics with Gaussian processes. We describe its use as a nonparametric Bayesian prior distribution, both for prediction (placing posterior distributions on ancestral functions) and model selection (comparing rates of evolution across a phylogeny, or identifying the most likely phylogenies consistent with the observed data). Our work is integrative, extending the popular phylogenetic Brownian Motion and Ornstein-Uhlenbeck models to functional data and Bayesian inference, and extending Gaussian Process regression to phylogenies. We provide a brief illustration of the application of our method.

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