Journal of Zoology

A species-level phylogenetic supertree of marsupials

Marcel Cardillo a1a2c1, Olaf R. P. Bininda-Emonds a3, Elizabeth Boakes a1a2 and Andy Purvis a1
a1 Department of Biological Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood Park, Ascot SL5 7PY, U.K.
a2 Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY, U.K.
a3 Lehrstuhl für Tierzucht, Technical University of Munich, Alte Akademie 12, 85354 Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany

Article author query
cardillo m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
bininda-emonds or   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
boakes e   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
purvis a   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Comparative studies require information on phylogenetic relationships, but complete species-level phylogenetic trees of large clades are difficult to produce. One solution is to combine algorithmically many small trees into a single, larger supertree. Here we present a virtually complete, species-level phylogeny of the marsupials (Mammalia: Metatheria), built by combining 158 phylogenetic estimates published since 1980, using matrix representation with parsimony. The supertree is well resolved overall (73.7%), although resolution varies across the tree, indicating variation both in the amount of phylogenetic information available for different taxa, and the degree of conflict among phylogenetic estimates. In particular, the supertree shows poor resolution within the American marsupial taxa, reflecting a relative lack of systematic effort compared to the Australasian taxa. There are also important differences in supertrees based on source phylogenies published before 1995 and those published more recently. The supertree can be viewed as a meta-analysis of marsupial phylogenetic studies, and should be useful as a framework for phylogenetically explicit comparative studies of marsupial evolution and ecology.

(Accepted January 26 2004)

Key Words: comparative studies; matrix representation with parsimony; Metatheria; QS support.

c1 All correspondence to: M. Cardillo, Department of Biological Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood Park, Ascot SL5 7PY, U.K. E-mail: