origin of UPGMA in phylogeny

Joe Felsenstein joe at evolution.genetics.washington.edu
Thu Oct 2 17:56:17 EST 1997

In article <610d50$ka7 at net.bio.net>,
Byron Adams  <bjadams at crcvms.unl.edu> wrote:
>	I have a couple of questions concerning the UPGMA method
>(unweighted pair-group method using arithmetic averages) as applied to
>phylogeny reconstruction:
>	Who is credited as being the author of UPGMA?

The earliest paper I know of is:

Sokal, R. R. and C. D. Michener.  1958.  A statistical method for
  evaluating systematic relationships.  University of Kansas Science
  Bulletin  38: 1409-1438.

>	Who was the first person to advocate the use of UPGMA as a means of
>phylogenetic reconstruction or use it to solve a historical/phylogenetic

They were.  I think that in the 1958 paper they intended the results to be
phylogenies.  The phenetic clustering interpretation came later.

>  [And why aren't any of these papers cited by systematic
>biologists who use the technique?]

Partly it's just become so well-known that no one cites an origin for
it.  But partly it's the Not Invented Here syndrome.  The phylogenetic
systematics school has let all work before 1969 fall into the memory hole,
preferring to cite Hennig as the originator of numerical work on phylogenies.

In fact the clustering methods Sokal and Sneath developed and publicized
in their widely-noticed 1963 book had a great influence on all of us who
were messing about with numerical algorithms for phylogenies in the 1960's,
and the Camin and Sokal (1965) paper had a big effect too.

Joe Felsenstein         joe at genetics.washington.edu
 Dept. of Genetics, Univ. of Washington, Box 357360, Seattle, WA 98195-7360 USA

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