Building large trees by combining phylogenetic information: a complete phylogeny of the extant Carnivora (Mammalia).
Biol. Rev. (1999) 74: 143-175.
One way to build larger, more comprehensive phylogenies is to combine the vast amount of phylogenetic information already available. We review the two main strategies for accomplishing this (combining raw data versus combining trees), but employ a relatively new variant of the latter : supertree construction. The utility of one supertree technique, matrix representation using parsimony analysis (MRP), is demonstrated by deriving a complete phylogeny for all 271 extant species of the Carnivora from 177 literature sources.
Beyond providing a "consensus" estimate of carnivore phylogeny, the tree also indicates taxa for which the relationships remain controversial (e.g. the red panda; within canids, felids, and hyaenids) or have not been studied in any great detail (e.g. herpestids, viverrids, and intrageneric relationships in the procyonids). Times of divergence throughout the tree were also estimated from 74 literature sources based on both fossil and molecular data. We use the phylogeny to show that some lineages within the Mustelinae and Canidae contain significantly more species than expected for their age, illustrating the tree's utility for studies of macroevolution. It will also provide a useful foundation for comparative and conservational studies involving the carnivores.