Parsimony analysis as a specific kind of homology estimation and the implications for character weighting.

Research paper by G G Haszprunar

Indexed on: 21 Jul '98Published on: 21 Jul '98Published in: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution


"Remane-Hennigian systematists" still reject parsimony analysis for phylogenetics, because homology or apomorphy analyses are not included. In contrast, "pattern cladists" regard homology as a deductive concept after applying a parsimony test of character congruence. However, as in molecular phylogeny, selection of "good" characters is always done on the basis of an a priori homology analysis. The distribution criterion of homology-"homologous characters have identical or hierarchical distribution"-is the basis of parsimony analysis. Because this criterion also might fail in cases of genealogical reticulation or concerted homoplasy, character congruence is not a strict test but another probabilistic criterion of homology. A synthetic approach is proposed for phenotypic analysis with application of a priori criteria of homology. The resulting a priori probabilities of homology serve as criteria for selection and weighting of characters (very low = not selected/poor/mediocre/good/Dollo characters). After application of a parsimony algorithm the final cladogram decides homology estimations.