Analyzing variation in rates of evolution can provide important insights into the factors that constrain trait evolution, as well as those that promote diversification. Metazoan endocrine systems exhibit apparent variation in evolutionary rates of their constituent components at multiple levels, yet relatively few studies have quantified these patterns and analyzed them in a phylogenetic context. This may be in part due to historical and current data limitations for many endocrine components and taxonomic groups. However, recent technological advancements such as high-throughput sequencing provide the opportunity to collect large-scale comparative data sets for even non-model species. Such ventures will produce a fertile data landscape for evolutionary analyses of nucleic acid and amino acid based endocrine components. Here I summarize evolutionary rate analyses that can be applied to categorical and continuous endocrine traits, and also those for nucleic acid and protein-based components. I emphasize analyses that could be used to test whether other variables (e.g., ecology, ontogenetic timing of expression, etc.) are related to patterns of rate variation and endocrine component diversification. The application of phylogenetic-based rate analyses to comparative endocrine data will greatly enhance our understanding of the factors that have shaped endocrine system evolution.
Bonett, R. M. (2016). Analyzing endocrine system conservation and evolution. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 234, 3–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2016.03.011