The use of colour characters in phylogenetic reconstruction
The use of coloration as a source of characters in phylogenetic reconstruction is investigated using 54 published data sets. Studies were divided into two categories based on a priori postulated roles of the coloration: (1) aposematic and mimetic coloration and (2) nonaposematic, nonmimetic coloration plus dual signals. Colour characters superficially appear to provide similar phylogenetic signal to morphological ones in the case of aposematic and mimetic coloration but significantly less in other situations. However, the data indicated that the apparent signal in the aposematic/mimetic studies tends to be in greater conflict with the morphological signal. It is proposed that this reflects constraints in the evolution of colour characters that are part of aposematic/mimetic patterns and not that they are necessarily good indicators of phylogeny. © 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 88, 193–202.