Phylogenetic trees have become important tools to study macroevolutionary patterns and in particular, to study how diversification rates vary through both time and across lineages. Such inferences can inform us about how specific geological or climatic events might have shaped our current species diversity. They also provide insights into how specific evolutionary innovations might have lead to adaptive radiations.
In collaboration with Jim Fordyce and Ben Fitzpatrick, we developed a Parametric Rate Comparison (PRC) method to identify shifts in diversification rates in phylogenetic trees. The method explicitly compares the distribution of branch lengths in a subclade to those in remainder of the tree to identify subclades with variable diversification rates. The library for PRC is released as an R package: iteRates.