Joined: Jan. 2006
Thanks Arden and Wesley.
|Quote (BWE @ June 29 2007,22:09)|
|But in terms of figuring out the evolution of coloration, it kinda throws a monkey wrench in there doncha think?|
Well, it depends.
Studying the evolution of coloration requires building phylogenies of closely related species (typically within a genus), as this trait seems highly variable.
Phylogenies of gene sequences at the genus level usually aren't problematic, they might be if the studied taxa underwent a fast radiation. Otherwise, there is not reason to think that DNA markers should not be reliable.
And regarding coloration, this trait should not be mischaracterized during field sampling.
However, as in every study regarding the evolution of a highly variable trait, problems may come from incomplete sampling: forgetting species, either because some have not been identified yet, or because the are unavailable, or because several have been misclassified in the same species. The latter could indeed happen in poorly studied organisms such as fungi, were two species may look similar while being more closely related compared to others species showing different colors.
But if you want a my personal opinion, I would say that incomplete sampling should not be so problematic. We don't need to know the complete and accurate history of the evolution of coloration, rather a global trend: is it a conserved or a highly variable trait at the genus level? Of course, it may depend on the genus, but a highly variable trait may indicate the action of divergent selection.