Axiomatic opportunities and obstacles for inferring a species tree from gene trees

Mike Steel, Joel Velasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The reconstruction of a central tendency ‘species tree’ from a large number of conflicting gene trees is a central problem in systematic biology. Moreover, it becomes particularly problematic when taxon coverage is patchy, so that not all taxa are present in every gene tree. Here, we list four apparently desirable properties that a method for estimating a species tree from gene trees could have. We show that while these can be achieved when taxon coverage is complete (by the Adams consensus method), they cannot all be satisfied in the more general setting of partial taxon coverage. In part two, we discuss a consensus method based on Baum’s ‘plurality clusters’, and an extension to the setting of partial taxon coverage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-778
JournalSystematic Biology
StatePublished - Jun 2014


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