CBER Research Talk - Dr David Murrell - 8 January 2018

Start: Jan 08, 2018 01:00 PM
End: Jan 08, 2018 02:00 PM


Title: The power to detect non-random patterns in ecology and evolution: null model tests for trait evolution and interspecific plant interactions
Speaker: Dr David Murrell (lab page)
Venue: Lankester LT (map)
Abstract: Null models have been a popular tool in ecology and evolution, but as with all statistical tests they must be used with care. I will discuss two examples. The first looks for non-random trait evolution using the popular Disparity Through Time approach, where I show current methods using the Morphological Disparity Index (MDI) suffer from statistical problems before introducing a new test that gives the highest power to detect non-random bursts in trait evolution.

In part two I investigate the ability of current methods to detect competitive interactions between plant species in a bid to explain/understand how the biodiversity of species-rich forests is maintained. I provide guidance on the amount of data required to detect positive/negative interactions between different plant species and show how some of the general results that have emerged over the last decade or so can be explained by the fact that it is extremely hard to detect interspecific interactions between pairs of species with fewer than 500 individuals.