A multilocus phylogeny of the Sulidae (Aves: Pelecaniformes).
ABSTRACT Gene trees will often differ from the true species history, the species tree, as a result of processes such as incomplete lineage sorting. New methods such as Bayesian Estimation of the Species Tree (BEST) use the multispecies coalescent to model lineage sorting, and directly infer the species tree from multilocus DNA sequence data. The Sulidae (Aves: Pelecaniformes) is a family of ten booby and gannet species with a global distribution. We sequenced five nuclear intron loci and one mitochondrial locus to estimate a species tree for the Sulidae using both BEST and by concatenating nuclear loci. We also used fossil calibrated strict and relaxed molecular clocks in BEAST to estimate divergence times for major nodes in the sulid phylogeny. Individual gene trees showed little phylogenetic conflict but varied in resolution. With the exception of the mitochondrial gene tree, no gene tree was completely resolved. On the other hand, both the BEST and concatenated species trees were highly resolved, strongly supported, and topologically consistent with each other. The three sulid genera (Morus, Sula, Papasula) were monophyletic and the relationships within genera were mostly consistent with both a previously estimated mtDNA gene tree and the mtDNA gene tree estimated here. However, our species trees conflicted with the mtDNA gene trees in the relationships among the three genera. Most notably, we find that the endemic and endangered Abbott's booby (Papasula abbotti) is likely basal to all other members of the Sulidae and diverged from them approximately 22 million years ago.