The impact of Felsenstein's “Phylogenies and the comparative method” on evolutionary biology
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Felsenstein’s (1985) method of phylogenetic independent contrasts is probably the most commonly used technique in evolutionary biology to study adaptation of organisms to their environment, taking phylogeny into account. Here, we performed a scientometric evaluation of all 1462 articles that cited Felsenstein (1985) between 1985 and 2002, in order to analyze the impact of his comparative method on the evolutionary research program and what has been done since it. We found that Felsentein’s (1985) article can be classified as a “hot paper” or a breakthrough contribution, since it was the most cited article from The American Naturalist published in 1985. Also, it can be considered as a “citation classic”, since it is the third more cited paper in The American Naturalist from 1945 to 2002. In general, papers that cited Felsenstein (1985) were published in high-impact journals, and most of them are theoretical articles indicating that biologists are aware of statistical and conceptual problems in dealing with comparative methods.
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