AWTY (are we there yet?): A system for graphical exploration of MCMC convergence in Bayesian phylogenetics

Johan A A Nylander, James C. Wilgenbusch*, Dan L. Warren, David L. Swofford

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1164 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    A key element to a successful Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) inference is the programming and run performance of the Markov chain. However, the explicit use of quality assessments of the MCMC simulations - convergence diagnostics - in phylogenetics is still uncommon. Here, we present a simple tool that uses the output from MCMC simulations and visualizes a number of properties of primary interest in a Bayesian phylogenetic analysis, such as convergence rates of posterior split probabilities and branch lengths. Graphical exploration of the output from phylogenetic MCMC simulations gives intuitive and often crucial information on the success and reliability of the analysis. The tool presented here complements convergence diagnostics already available in other software packages primarily designed for other applications of MCMC. Importantly, the common practice of using trace-plots of a single parameter or summary statistic, such as the likelihood score of sampled trees, can be misleading for assessing the success of a phylogenetic MCMC simulation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)581-583
    Number of pages3
    JournalBioinformatics
    Volume24
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008

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