The determination of whether the pattern of trait evolution observed in a comparative analysis of species data is due to adaptation to current environments, to phylogenetic inertia, or to both of these forces requires that one control for the effects of either force when making an assessment of the evolutionary role of the other. Orzack and Sober (2001) developed the method of controlled comparisons to make such assessments; their implementation of the method focussed on a discretely varying trait. Here, we show that the method of controlled comparisons can be viewed as a meta-method, which can be implemented in many ways. We discuss which recent methods for the comparative analysis of continuously distributed traits can generate controlled comparisons and can thereby be used to properly assess whether current adaptation and/or phylogenetic inertia have influenced a trait's evolution. The implementation of controlled comparisons is illustrated by an analysis of sex-ratio data for fig wasps. This analysis suggests that current adaptation and phylogenetic inertia influence this trait.
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Vol. 59 • No. 10