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Estimating parameters of speciation models based on refined summaries of the joint site-frequency spectrum


Haubold,  Bernhard
Research Group Bioinformatics, Department Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Tellier, A., Pfaffelhuber, P., Haubold, B., Naduvilezhath, L., Rose, L. E., Städler, T., et al. (2011). Estimating parameters of speciation models based on refined summaries of the joint site-frequency spectrum. PLoS ONE, 6(5): e18155. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018155.

Understanding the processes and conditions under which populations diverge to give rise to distinct species is a central question in evolutionary biology. Since recently diverged populations have high levels of shared polymorphisms, it is challenging to distinguish between recent divergence with no (or very low) inter-population gene flow and older splitting events with subsequent gene flow. Recently published methods to infer speciation parameters under the isolation-migration framework are based on summarizing polymorphism data at multiple loci in two species using the joint site-frequency spectrum (JSFS). We have developed two improvements of these methods based on a more extensive use of the JSFS classes of polymorphisms for species with high intra-locus recombination rates. First, using a likelihood based method, we demonstrate that taking into account low-frequency polymorphisms shared between species significantly improves the joint estimation of the divergence time and gene flow between species. Second, we introduce a local linear regression algorithm that considerably reduces the computational time and allows for the estimation of unequal rates of gene flow between species. We also investigate which summary statistics from the JSFS allow the greatest estimation accuracy for divergence time and migration rates for low (around 10) and high (around 100) numbers of loci. Focusing on cases with low numbers of loci and high intra-locus recombination rates we show that our methods for the estimation of divergence time and migration rates are more precise than existing approaches.