Speciation is not instantaneous but takes time. The protracted birth-death diversification model incorporates this fact and predicts the often observed slowdown of lineage accumulation towards the present. The mathematical complexity of the protracted speciation model has barred estimation of its parameters until recently a method to compute the likelihood of phylogenetic branching times under this model was outlined (Lambert et al. 2014). Here we implement this method and study using simulated phylogenies of extant species how well we can estimate the model parameters (rate of initiation of speciation, rate of extinction of incipient and good species, and rate of completion of speciation) as well as the duration of speciation, which is a combination of the aforementioned parameters. We illustrate our approach by applying it to a primate phylogeny. The simulations show that phylogenies often do not contain enough information to provide unbiased estimates of the speciation-initiation rate and the extinction rate, but the duration of speciation can be estimated without much bias. The estimate of the duration of speciation for the primate clade is consistent with literature estimates. We conclude that phylogenies combined with the protracted speciation model provides a promising way to estimate the duration of speciation.
The data package contains one dataset:
- Etienne et al - Evolution 2014 - supporting data