Here is the article abstract:
Charles Darwin sketched his first evolutionary tree in 1837, and trees have remained a central metaphor in evolutionary biology up to the present. Today, phylogeneticsâ€”the science of constructing and evaluating hypotheses about historical patterns of descent in the form of evolutionary treesâ€”has become pervasive within and increasingly outside evolutionary biology. Fostering skills in â€œtree thinkingâ€ is therefore a critical component of biological education. Conversely, misconceptions about evolutionary trees can be very detrimental to oneâ€™s understanding of the patterns and processes that have occurred in the history of life. This paper provides a basic introduction to evolutionary trees, including some guidelines for how and how not to read them. Ten of the most common misconceptions about evolutionary trees and their implications for understanding evolution are addressed.
Gregory, TR. 2008. Understanding evolutionary trees. Evolution: Education and Outreach 1: in press.
I have also started a series on the topic at DNA and Diversity.
My earlier piece “Evolution as fact, theory, and path” is also free to access.