Interpretation of phylogenetic trees is fundamental in understanding the relationships between organisms, their traits or characteristics, their ecology and even their genomic and developmental biology. As trees appear more often in basic texts, many students, and even their teachers, clearly understand little of how they are constructed and even less about what can be inferred from them about the history of the representatives analyzed. Not only are these trees a source of confusion on what they do tell us, often non-specialists infer things wrongly or, worse, others misuse them in an attempt to negate the validity of evolutionary theory. In this brief introduction, I attempt to give a synopsis of basic tree-building methods, and more importantly demonstrate interpretation and dispel some common misconceptions about them.
Staton, Joseph L.
"Understanding phylogenies: Constructing and Interpreting Phylogenetic trees,"
Journal of the South Carolina Academy of Science: Vol. 13
, Article 6.
Available at: http://scholarcommons.sc.edu/jscas/vol13/iss1/6