Phylogenetic relationships and historical biogeography of neotropical parrots (Psittaciformes: Psittacidae: Arini) inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences.
ABSTRACT Previous hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships among Neotropical parrots were based on limited taxon sampling and lacked support for most internal nodes. In this study we increased the number of taxa (29 species belonging to 25 of the 30 genera) and gene sequences (6388 base pairs of RAG-1, cyt b, NADH2, ATPase 6, ATPase 8, COIII, 12S rDNA, and 16S rDNA) to obtain a stronger molecular phylogenetic hypothesis for this group of birds. Analyses of the combined gene sequences using maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods resulted in a well-supported phylogeny and indicated that amazons and allies are a sister clade to macaws, conures, and relatives, and these two clades are in turn a sister group to parrotlets. Key morphological and behavioral characters used in previous classifications were mapped on the molecular tree and were phylogenetically uninformative. We estimated divergence times of taxa using the molecular tree and Bayesian and penalized likelihood methods that allow for rate variation in DNA substitutions among sites and taxa. Our estimates suggest that the Neotropical parrots shared a common ancestor with Australian parrots 59 Mya (million of years ago; 95% credibility interval (CrI) 66, 51 Mya), well before Australia separated from Antarctica and South America, implying that ancestral parrots were widespread in Gondwanaland. Thus, the divergence of Australian and Neotropical parrots could be attributed to vicariance. The three major clades of Neotropical parrots originated about 50 Mya (95% CrI 57, 41 Mya), coinciding with periods of higher sea level when both Antarctica and South America were fragmented with transcontinental seaways, and likely isolated the ancestors of modern Neotropical parrots in different regions in these continents. The correspondence between major paleoenvironmental changes in South America and the diversification of genera in the clade of amazons and allies between 46 and 16 Mya suggests they diversified exclusively in South America. Conversely, ancestors of parrotlets and of macaws, conures, and allies may have been isolated in Antarctica and/or the southern cone of South America, and only dispersed out of these southern regions when climate cooled and Antarctica became ice-encrusted about 35 Mya. The subsequent radiation of macaws and their allies in South America beginning about 28 Mya (95% CrI 22, 35 Mya) coincides with the uplift of the Andes and the subsequent formation of dry, open grassland habitats that would have facilitated ecological speciation via niche expansion from forested habitats.
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ABSTRACT: Specialization to nectarivory is associated with radiations within different bird groups, including parrots. One of them, the Australasian lories, were shown to be unexpectedly species-rich. Their shift to nectarivory may have created an ecological opportunity promoting species proliferation. Several morphological specializations of the feeding tract to nectarivory have been described for parrots. However, they have never been assessed in a quantitative framework considering phylogenetic non-independence. Using a phylogenetic comparative approach with broad taxon sampling and 15 continuous characters of the digestive tract, we demonstrate that nectarivorous parrots differ in several traits from the remaining parrots. These trait-changes indicate phenotype-environment correlations and parallel evolution, and may reflect adaptations to feed effectively on nectar. Moreover, the diet shift was associated with significant trait shifts at the base of the radiation of the lories, as shown by a newly developed statistical approach. Their diet shift might be considered as an evolutionary key innovation which promoted significant non-adaptive lineage diversification through allopatric partitioning of the same new niche. The lack of increased rates of cladogenesis in other nectarivorous parrots indicates that evolutionary innovations need not be associated one-to-one with diversification events.Ecology and Evolution 01/2014; · 1.66 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We studied the hindlimb myology of the monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus). Like all parrots, it has zygodactyl feet enabling perching, climbing, hanging, moving easily among trees, and handling food. Muscles were described and weighed, and physiological cross-sectional area (PCSA) of four flexors and one extensor was calculated. In comparison to other muscles, the M. tibialis cranialis and the M. fibularis brevis show increased development and high PCSA values, and therefore, large potential force production. Also, a large proportion of muscle mass was involved in flexing the digits. We hypothesize that these muscle traits are associated with the arboreal locomotion and food manipulation habits. In the monk parakeet, the M. extensor digitorum longus sends a branch to the hallux, and the connection between the M. flexor digitorum longus and the M. flexor hallucis longus is type I (Gadow's classification). We reaffirm the presence of the M. ambiens as a plesiomorphic condition that disappears in most members of the order. Among Psittaciformes, the M. fibularis brevis is stronger and the M. fibularis weaker in arboreal species than in basal terrestrial ones (e.g., Strigops). J. Morphol., 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.Journal of Morphology 02/2014; · 1.60 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Psittacines are generally considered to possess cognitive abilities comparable to those of primates. Most psittacine research has evaluated performance on standardized complex cognition tasks, but studies of basic cognitive processes are limited. We tested orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica) on a spatial foraging assessment, the Hamilton search task. This task is a standardized test used in human and non-human primate studies. It has multiple phases, which require trial and error learning, learning set breaking, and spatial memory. We investigated search strategies used to complete the task, cognitive flexibility, and long-term memory for the task. We also assessed the effects of individual strength of motor lateralization (foot preference) and sex on task performance. Almost all (92 %) of the parrots acquired the task. All had significant foot preferences, with 69 % preferring their left foot, and showed side preferences contralateral to their preferred limb during location selection. The parrots were able to alter their search strategies when reward contingencies changed, demonstrating cognitive flexibility. They were also able to remember the task over a 6-month period. Lateralization had a significant influence on learning set acquisition but no effect on cognitive flexibility. There were no sex differences. To our knowledge, this is the first cognitive study using this particular species and one of the few studies of cognitive abilities in any Neotropical parrot species.Animal Cognition 12/2013; · 2.71 Impact Factor