Evolution of the ovenbird-woodcreeper assemblage (Aves: Furnariidae) - Major shifts in nest architecture and adaptive radiation

ArticleinJournal of Avian Biology 37(3):260 - 272 · May 2006with 146 Reads
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Abstract
The Neotropical ovenbirds (Furnariidae) form an extraordinary morphologically and ecologically diverse passerine radiation, which includes many examples of species that are superficially similar to other passerine birds as a resulting from their adaptations to similar lifestyles. The ovenbirds further exhibits a truly remarkable variation in nest types, arguably approaching that found in the entire passerine clade. Herein we present a genus-level phylogeny of ovenbirds based on both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA including a more complete taxon sampling than in previous molecular studies of the group. The phylogenetic results are in good agreement with earlier molecular studies of ovenbirds, and supports the suggestion that Geositta and Sclerurus form the sister clade to both core-ovenbirds and woodcreepers. Within the core-ovenbirds several relationships that are incongruent with traditional classifications are suggested. Among other things, the philydorine ovenbirds are found to be non-monophyletic. The mapping of principal nesting strategies onto the molecular phylogeny suggests cavity nesting to be plesiomorphic within the ovenbird–woodcreeper radiation. It is also suggested that the shift from cavity nesting to building vegetative nests is likely to have happened at least three times during the evolution of the group. We suggest that the shifts in nest architecture within the furnariine and synallaxine ovenbirds have served as an ecological release that has facilitated diversification into new habitats and new morphological specializations.

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    Parallelisms and paraphyletic assemblages are common among ovenbirds. Molecular markers are therefore the best approach when studying the evolutionary relationships among the members of this unparalleled diversified family. We obtained nucleotide sequence data from mitochondrial (cytochrome b) and nuclear genes (myoglobin and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphodehydrogenase) and used these to deduce the phylogenetic position of a monotypic genus endemic to the austral temperate rainforests of southern South America, the Des Murs’ Wiretail (Sylviorthorhynchus desmursii Des Murs, 1847, Aves: Furnariidae). Phylogenetic analyses based on maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference all converged into a congruent topology, with a basal position of Des Murs’ Wiretail within Synallaxinae together with Tit–Spinetails (Leptasthenura). Our data reject the hypothesis of a phylogenetic relationship between Des Murs’ Wiretail and thistletails (Schizoeaca) which exhibit parallelisms in morphology, tail structure and nest architecture. Using a molecular clock based on the myoglobin intron 2 gene, we estimated a divergence time of Des Murs’ Wiretail from Tit-Spinetails of 14–15Myr, which is associated with the appearance of sclerophyllous forest elements in Chile at the Middle–Upper Miocene.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    We obtained DNA sequence data from mitochondrial (cytochrome b) and nuclear genes (myoglobin and ornithine decarboxylase) to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships among eight species of shrikes (Lanius). Phylogenetic analyses based on maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference all converged into a congruent topology and defined several well-supported clades. Our multi-gene approach based on nucleotide sequences from fast-evolving and conserved genes strongly supported the paraphyly of Southern Grey Shrikes (Lanius meridionalis). The Canary Islands subspecies (L. m. koenigi) differed significantly from its European counterpart (L. m. meridionalis). Furthermore, the genetic distinctiveness of L. m. koenigi was confirmed by ISSR genomic fingerprinting. By contrast, we did not find evidence to distinguish the Canarian Southern Grey Shrike from L. m. algeriensis on the African mainland (Tunisia), and therefore these two taxa may be considered as synonymous. Together, they correspond to a separate species. The origin of the taxa investigated in this study might have originated about 6Mya at the Miocene/Pliocene boundary when a remarkable worldwide faunal turnover and global vegetation change occurred. The Lanius genus represents a complex and taxonomically challenging group that requires additional research.
  • Article
    Tyrant flycatchers constitute a substantial component of the land bird fauna in all South American habitats. Past interpretations of the morphological and ecological evolution in the group have been hampered by the lack of a well-resolved hypothesis of their phylogenetic interrelationships. Here, we present a well-resolved phylogeny based on DNA sequences from three nuclear introns for 128 taxa. Our results confirm much of the overall picture of Tyrannidae relationships, and also identify several novel relationships. The genera Onychorhynchus, Myiobius and Terenotriccus are placed outside Tyrannidae and may be more closely related to Tityridae. Tyrannidae consists of two main lineages. An expanded pipromorphine clade includes flatbills, tody-tyrants and antpipits, and also Phylloscartes and Pogonotriccus. The spadebills, Neopipo and Tachuris are their closest relatives. The remainder of the tyrant flycatchers forms a well-supported clade, subdivided in two large subclades, which differ consistently in foraging behaviour, the perch-gleaning elaeniines and the sallying myiarchines, tyrannines and fluvicolines. A third clade is formed by the genera Myiotriccus, Pyrrhomyias, Hirundinea and three species currently placed in Myiophobus. Ancestral habitat reconstruction and divergence date estimation suggest that early divergence events in Tyrannida took place in a humid forest environment during the Oligocene. Large-scale diversification in open habitats is confined to the clade consisting of the elaeniines, myiarchines, tyrannines and fluvicolines. This radiation correlates in time to the expansion of semi-open and open habitats from the mid-Miocene (c. 15 Mya) onwards. The pipromorphine, elaeniine and myiarchine–tyrannine–fluvicoline clades each employ distinct foraging strategies (upward striking, perch-gleaning and sallying, respectively), but the degree of diversity in morphology and microhabitat exploitation is markedly different between these clades. While the pipromorphines and elaeniines each are remarkably homogenous in morphology and exploit a restricted range of microhabitats, the myiarchine–tyrannine–fluvicoline clade is more diverse in these respects. This greater ecological diversity, especially as manifested in their success in colonizing a wider spectrum of open habitats, appears to be connected to a greater adaptive flexibility of the search-and-sally foraging behaviour.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The Neotropical ovenbirds (Furnariidae) are an adaptive radiation of suboscines renowned for the diversity of their nests. Like most altricial insectivores, they generally exhibit biparental care. One tribe, Philydorini, includes 46 species thought to nest in either underground burrows or tree cavities, nest types traditionally treated as equivalent in phylogenetic studies. Their parental care systems are poorly known, but could help illuminate how uniparental care – typically associated with frugivory – can arise in insectivores. We examined the extent to which nest placement, parental care, and associated reproductive traits map onto two major clades of Philydorini identified by genetic hypotheses. We review published literature and present new information from the Atlantic Forest of Argentina, including the first nest descriptions for Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaners (Anabacerthia lichtensteini) and Sharp-billed Treehunters (Heliobletus contaminatus). In the Automolus-Thripadectes-Clibanornis clade (including Philydor rufum), 134 of 138 reported nests were in underground burrows. In the Syndactyla-Anabacerthia-Anabazenops clade (including Heliobletus, Philydor atricapillus, and Philydor erythrocercum), 44 of 48 nests were in tree cavities. Remaining nests were in buildings or species-level identification was unclear. At least eight species in the first clade, but none in the second clade, excavated their nest sites. Biparental care was confirmed for nine species in the first clade and one species in the second clade. In contrast, nests of A. lichtensteini and H. contaminatus were attended by a single secretive adult. We propose that species in the Automolus-Thripadectes-Clibanornis clade are underground burrow excavators, and those in the Syndactyla-Anabacerthia-Anabazenops clade are secondary tree-cavity nesters (nonexcavators). We also note that parental care strategies in Furnariidae vary with nest complexity and conspicuousness – from uniparental care in secretive tree-cavity nesters to cooperative breeding in highly vocal builders of elaborate nests – suggesting evolutionary links among nest-building, concealment, and parental care strategies.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The architectural diversity of nests in the passerine birds (order Passeriformes) is thought to have played an important role in the adaptive radiation of this group, which now comprises more than half of avian species and occupies nearly all terrestrial ecosystems. Here, we present an extensive survey and ancestral state reconstruction of nest design across the passerines, focusing on early Australian lineages and including members of nearly all passerine families worldwide. Most passerines build open cup-shaped nests, whereas a minority build more elaborate domed structures with roofs. We provide strong evidence that, despite their relative rarity today, domed nests were constructed by the common ancestor of all modern passerines. Open cup nests evolved from enclosed domes at least four times independently during early passerine evolution, at least three of which occurred on the Australian continent, yielding several primarily cup-nesting clades that are now widespread and numerically dominant among passerines. Our results show that the ubiquitous and relatively simple cup-shaped nests of many birds today evolved multiple times convergently, suggesting adaptive benefits over earlier roofed designs.
  • Article
    The genus Psammolestes is comprised of three recognized Rhodniini species: P. arthuri, P. coreodes, and P. tertius. The geographical distribution of these triatomines in South America was analyzed using ecological niche modeling. Additionally, temperature, precipitation, and altitude limits for these species were estimated. The genetic algorithm for rule-set production (GARP) was applied to predict their geographical distribution. The models used were able to predict, with high probabilities, the occurrence of P. tertius in open woodlands of South America (mainly Cerrado and Caatinga ecoregions), making it the Psammolestes species with the widest distribution. P, arthuri presented a discontinuous potential distribution covering the Venezuelan Llanos and southeastern/southwestern fringes of Amazonia. P coreodes presented the southernmost area of distribution, occurring mainly in the Argentinean Chaco. The models also support potential areas of co-occurrence for P. tertius and P. coreodes in southwestern Brazil. Clear ecological niche differences were observed for the three species: while P. arthuri occurred in warm and humid areas, P. coreodes occupied the driest and coldest areas. P. tertius presented intermediate climatological limits and occurred in the highest altitudes. Although climatic factors may determine the triatomine distribution, biotic factors, such as the association with thornbirds (Phacellodomus), may also influence the geographical distribution of Psammolestes species. Finally, this study confirms the usefulness of ecological niche modeling as a tool for studies on biogeographical aspects of triatomines.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Thripadectes, a little studied genus in Funariidae has thorough nest descriptions for five of its seven species, most consisting of one or two nests. Although the nest of Thripadectes holostictus has been described, it is based only on two nests, and there is no nest description for the subspecies, T. h. moderatus, which we report in this study. Between October and December 2011, we monitored four nests of T. h. moderatus in Manu National Park, Peru. In addition to reporting the first nest for the subspecies T. h. moderatus, we provide new information for T. holostictus, including incubation period (between 13-17 days), fledgling period (20-23 days), fresh egg weights (x̄ ± SE = 5.8 ± 0.1 g), nestling growth patterns, further evidence for biparental care, and new observations on nest materials.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Phylogenetic analysis of the family Furnariidae (Aves: Passeriformes) indicates that the genus Asthenes is polyphyletic, consisting of two groups that are not sister taxa. Pseudasthenes, a new genus of ovenbird, is described for one of these groups. The four species included in the new genus, formerly placed in Asthenes, are P. humicola, P. patagonica, P. steinbachi, and P. cactorum.
  • Article
    The insect fauna in nests of Coryphistera alaudina Burmeister, 1860 (Aves: Furnariidae) were studied in the provinces of Santiago del Estero, Chaco, Córdoba, and La Pampa in Argentina. A total of 7364 insect specimens comprising 77 taxa in a total of 29 families and 7 orders was found in their nests: 40 identified to species, 23 identified to genus, and 14 identified to family. Coryphistera alaudina and some of their vertebrate inquilines are new host records for the triatomine bugs Psammolestes coreodes Bergroth, 1911 and/or Triatoma platensis Neiva, 1913 (Hemiptera: Reduviidae). The insects in the nests of C. alaudina are separated by functional guilds, and their permanence time inside the nests are presented in a new manner and discussed.
  • Article
    The Cipó Canastero (Asthenes luizae) is a recently described species from the Espinhaço Range, southeastern Brazil. We describe the nest, eggs, and nestlings of this species. Six nests were found in four different territories, two of which were active. All nests were in Vellozia nivea (Velloziaceae). Mean measurements were: height above ground  =  21.8 cm, entrance diameter  =  4.3 cm, nest length  =  23.5 cm, nest height  =  23.3 cm, and nest width  =  20.3 cm. Both active nests were parasitized by Shiny Cowbirds (Molothrus bonariensis).
  • Article
    Full-text available
    By combining distributions and phylogenies for large groups of birds, it is now possible to disentangle the relative roles of contemporary ecology and history in explaining the distribution of biodiversity on earth. In South America, avian lineages, which represent radiations during the warm parts of the Tertiary, are best represented in the tropical lowlands and Andean forelands. During the upper Tertiary, diversification was most intense in the tropical Andes region, with recruitment back into the tropical lowlands and into South America's open biomes. Within the tropical Andes, endemism (mean inverse range size) and mean branch length (number of phylogenetic nodes on lineages) increase from the foothills up to the tree line and then decline again in the barren highlands, suggesting that the tree-line zone plays a special role in the diversification process. The resulting endemism is locally aggregated, often with marked peaks in areas immediately adjacent to ancient population centers. Thus, the process of evolution of new species is linked with local factors that, over a shorter time perspective, were also favorable for people. If we want to maintain the process of diversification, it becomes essential to supplement the traditional approach of preserving biodiversity in wilderness areas with few people with efforts to support sustainable development in populated areas.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The Pearled Treerunner (Margarornis squamiger) is a small ovenbird (Furnariidae) inhabiting the upper strata of Neotropical montane forests. Little is known of its breeding habits despite its wide distribution and abundance within appropriate habitat. The genus Margarornis is considered closely related to Premnoplex barbtails, but details of nest architecture supporting this relationship are unavailable. Here we provide the first detailed description of nest architecture for the Pearled Treerunner from a nest encountered in northwest Ecuador. The nest was a tightly woven ball of moss and rootlets, similar in shape to that of the Spotted Barbtail (Premnoplex brunnescens) and presumably built in a similar manner. Nest architecture and nestling behavior support a close relationship between Margarornis and Premnoplex.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Modern attempts to produce biogeographic maps focus on the distribution of species, and the maps are typically drawn without phylogenetic considerations. Here, we generate a global map of zoogeographic regions by combining data on the distributions and phylogenetic relationships of 21,037 species of amphibians, birds, and mammals. We identify 20 distinct zoogeographic regions, which are grouped into 11 larger realms. We document the lack of support for several regions previously defined based on distributional data and show that spatial turnover in the phylogenetic composition of vertebrate assemblages is higher in the Southern than in the Northern Hemisphere. We further show that the integration of phylogenetic information provides valuable insight on historical relationships among regions, permitting the identification of evolutionarily unique regions of the world.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The White-browed Spinetail (Hellmayrea gularis), of the Andean cloud forests, is the sole member of the genus Hellmayrea, and its phylogenetic relationships are still unresolved. The diversity of nest architectures in the family Furnariidae provides many phylogenetically informative characters; however, information on the nest of this enigmatic genus is lacking. Here, we describe four nests of Hellmayrea discovered in Ecuador. All nests were embedded within hanging masses of epiphytic moss, but were not pendulous, being supported from below or by stems incorporated in side walls. All nests were balls with a side entrance, externally built of green moss and internally of dry bamboo leaves. The bottom of the chamber was lined with Tillandsia seed down and, in one nest, tree-fern scales were also used. These first nests of Hellmayrea represent a type of nest architecture previously unknown in the family Furnariidae.
  • Preprint
    Passerine birds build a diversity of nests to lay and incubate eggs, and to house nestlings. Open cup, dome, and hole (or cavity) nests have distinct advantages and/or disadvantages related to predation risk and thermoregulation. We used macroecological and macroevolutionary approaches to test contrasting predictions from considering these consequences. Patterns of prevalence across latitude and elevation for the roofed nest types (holes and domes) provide no evidence that their thermoregulation benefits promote colonization of colder environments. These patterns are more consistent with the role of predation in determining where dome-nesting species in particular occur. Macroevolutionary analyses suggest that diversity patterns for nest types along major ecological gradients mostly arise from how clades with conserved nest types have diversified across gradients, rather than arising from local adaptation. Lastly, we reveal a negative relationship between body mass and latitude in hole-nesting passerines, which runs counter to Bergmann's rule.
  • Article
    The insect fauna of the nests of Pseudoseisura lophotes (Reichenbach, 1853) (Aves: Furnariidae) from Argentina was investigated. A total of 110 species (68 identified to species, 22 identified to genus, 20 identified to family) in 40 families of 10 orders of insects was found in these nests. Triatoma platensis Neiva, 1913 (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) was found again in nests of P. lophotes, corroborating after 73 years the first observations made by Mazza in 1936. The occurrence of the insects in nests of P. lophotes is compared with the previously known insect fauna in nests of A. annumbi, Furnarius rufus (Furnariidae), and Myiopsitta monachus (Psittacidae). The insect fauna in additional nests of Anumbius annumbi from the same and/or different localities is given, and used in comparisons. The first occurrence of Cuterebridae (Diptera) in birds’ nests, their pupae as the overwintering stage, and the second simultaneous infestation by two species of Philornis (Diptera: Muscidae) on the same nestlings are presented. Other simultaneous infestations of different hematophagous arthropods (Hemiptera: Cimidae; Reduviidae: Triatominae, and Acari: Argasidae) are remarked and discussed.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    This report is the ninth one of a series and presents the results of a comprehensive literature screening in search for new bird taxa described in 2013, namely new genera, species and subspecies worldwide. We tracked names of ten genera, 25 species and three subspecies (one additional for 2010) new to science which, according to the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature were correctly described. On the basis of molecular genetic analyses new genera for species or species groups were proposed within Columbidae (2), Pipridae (1), and Thamnophilidae (7). Though various species concepts are concerned and "species" may have differing biological meanings, the number of 25 new bird species described in a single year is extraordinarily high. It is unsurpassed at least within the last hundred years. The new species refer to Hydrobatidae (1), Tytonidae (1), Strigidae (2), Bucconidae (1), Tyrannidae (1), Pipromorphidae (2), Thamnophilidae (5), Rhinocryptidae (1), Dendrocolaptidae (4), Furnariidae (1), Corvidae (1), Cisticolidae (1), Timaliidae (1), Polioptilidae (1), Passerellidae (1), and Thraupidae (1). Five of the new species described refer to Non-Passeriformes, the remainder 20 species to Passeriformes. In several cases the populations in question now considered to represent a new species were known since long. But only substantial studies of their songs, genetics and/or ecology led to description of new formerly unrecognized species. Most cases refer to the Neotropics.The distributional areas of the new species often are minute, restricted to remote and difficultly to access areas, often small islands and were hitherto overlooked due to their similarity to closely related species. Due to their limited ranges species new to science are often already endangered when detected. In a taxon sequence by genus/species/subspecies the newly described taxa have following origin: Neotropics (10/20/2), Palaearctic (-/1/2; one already in 2010) and Indo-Malaya (0/4/0). A number of splits, namely those of known species into allospecies as the geographic representatives of a superspecies are also addressed, but these are restricted to the Palaearctic and Indo-Malayan regions. Such splits markedly influenced species numbers especially in the Alcedinidae (kingfishers, Ceyx) and in the Pycnonotidae (bulbuls, Thapsinillas). We discuss possible flaws in new descriptions and certain splits, regardless of the species concept addressed. However, in general this report should be taken as a documentation of new taxa, not as a critical review of recent changes in bird taxonomy and bird descriptions.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    We reviewed the tremendous architectural diversity of ovenbird (Furnariidae) nests based on literature, museum collections, and new field observations. With few exceptions, furnariids exhibited low intraspecific variation for the nest characters hypothesized, with the majority of variation being hierarchically distributed among taxa. We hypothesized nest homologies for 168 species in 41 genera (ca. 70% of all species and genera) and coded them as 24 derived characters. Forty-eight most-parsimonious trees (41 steps, CI = 0.98, RC = 0.97) resulted from a parsimony analysis of the equally weighted characters using PAUP, with the Dendrocolaptidae and Formicarioidea as successive outgroups. The strict-consensus topology based on these trees contained 15 clades representing both traditional taxa and novel phylogenetic groupings. Comparisons with the outgroups demonstrate that cavity nesting is plesiomorphic to the furnariids. In the two lineages where the primitive cavity nest has been lost, novel nest structures have evolved to enclose the nest contents: the clay oven of Furnarius and the domed vegetative nest of the synallaxine clade. Although our phylogenetic hypothesis should be considered as a heuristic prediction to be tested subsequently by additional character evidence, this first cladistic analysis of the furnariids demonstrates the general utility of nest characters in reconstruction of avian relationships, and it provides a test of monophyly for several furnariid taxa.
  • Body pterylosis of woodcreepers and ovenbirds (Dendrocolaptidae and Furnariidae)
    • H M Clench
    Clench, H. M. 1995. Body pterylosis of woodcreepers and ovenbirds (Dendrocolaptidae and Furnariidae). ?/ Auk 112: 800?/804
  • Catalogue of birds of the Americas. – Field Mus
    • C E Hellmayr
    • C E Hellmayr
  • Family Formicar-iidae (Ground-antbirds) Á Handbook of the Birds of the World
    • N K Krabbe
    • T S Schulenberg
    Krabbe, N. K. and Schulenberg, T. S. 2003. Family Formicar-iidae (Ground-antbirds). Á/ In: del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. and Christie, D. (eds). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Broadbills to Tapaculos. BirdLife International and Lynx Edicions; Cambridge U.K. Á/ and Barcelona 8: 682 Á/731.
  • Catalogue of birds of the Americas
    • Á Princeton Univ
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    Á/ Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton N.J. Hellmayr, C. E. 1925. Catalogue of birds of the Americas.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    We here describe Acrobatornis fonsecai, a new genus and species in the Furnariidae, from the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Bahia, Brazil. Among the outstanding features of this small, arboreal form are: black-and-gray definitive plumage lacking any rufous; juvenal plumage markedly different from adult; stout, bright-pink legs and feet; and its acrobatic foraging behavior involving almost constant inverted hangs on foliage and scansorial creeping along the undersides of canopy limbs. Analysis of morphology, vocalizations, and behavior suggest to us a phylogenetic position close to Asthenes and Cranioleuca; in some respects, it appears close to the equally obscure Xenerpestes and Metopothrix. New data on the morphology, vocalizations, and behavior of several furnariids possibly related to Acrobatornis are presented in the context of intrafamilial relationships. We theorize that Acrobatornis could have colonized its current range during an ancient period of continental semiaridity that promoted the expansion of stick nesting prototypes from a southern, Chaco-Patagonian/Pantanal center, and today represents a relict that survived by adapting to build its stick- nest in the relatively dry, open, canopy of leguminaceous trees of the contemporary humid forest in southeastern Bahia. Another theory of origin places emphasis on the fact that the closest relatives of practically all (if not all) other birds syntopic with Acrobatornis are of primarily Amazonian distribution. Acrobatornis fonsecai has a most unusual distribution in a restricted region in which lowland Atlantic Forest has been converted virtually entirely to cocoa plantations. Until very recently a lucrative and vitally important source of income for Bahia, the economic base for cocoa production has suffered catastrophic, apparently irrecoverable, decline owing to 'witch's broom' disease, which has proven resistant to all forms of control. The predictable wave to cut find sell the tall trees shading failing cocoa plantations has already begun in earnest with the consequence that the remnant forest canopies in this region, upon which Acrobatornis fonsecai is totally dependent, are being rapidly destroyed. This remarkable new furnariid and the secrets it holds for elucidation of phylogeny, evolutionary history, speciation patterns, and zoogeography, if not safeguarded immediately, when its habitat is still for sale, could disappear in the coming decade.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The unwitting inclusion of convergent characters in phylogenetic estimates poses a serious problem for efforts to recover phylogeny. Convergence is not inscrutable, however, particularly when one group of characters tracks phylogeny and another set tracks adaptive history. In such cases, convergent characters may be correlated with one or a few functional anatomical units and readily identifiable by using comparative methods. Stifftail ducks (Oxyurinae) offer one such opportunity to study correlated character evolution and function in the context of phylogenetic reconstruction. Morphological analyses place stifftail ducks as part of a large clade of diving ducks that includes the sea ducks (Mergini), Hymenolaimus, Merganetta, and Tachyeres, and possibly the pochards (Aythyini). Molecular analyses, on the other hand, place stifftails far from other diving ducks and suggest, moreover, that stifftails are polyphyletic. Mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences of eight stifftail species traditionally supposed to form a clade were compared with each other and with sequences from 50 other anseriform and galliform species. Stifftail ducks are not the sister group of sea ducks but lie outside the typical ducks (Anatinae). Of the four traditional stifftail genera, monophyly of Oxyura and its sister group relationship with Nomonyx are strongly supported. Heteronetta probably is the sister group of that clade, but support is weak. Biziura is not a true stifftail. Within Oxyura, Old World species (O. australis, O. leucocephala, O. maccoa) appear to form a clade, with New World species (O. jamaicensis, O. vittata) branching basally. Incongruence between molecules and morphology is interpreted to be the result of adaptive specialization and functional convergence in the hind limbs of Biziura and true stifftails. When morphological characters are divided into classes, only hind-limb characters are significantly in conflict with the molecular tree. Likewise, null models of synonymous and nonsynonymous substitution based on patterns of codon-degeneracy and chemical dissimilarity indicate that the nucleotide and amino acid changes postulated by the molecular tree are more plausible than those postulated by the morphological tree. These findings teach general lessons about the utility of highly adaptive characters (in particular those related to foraging ecology) and underscore the problems that convergence can pose for attempts to recover phylogeny. They also demonstrate how the concept of natural data partitions and simple models of evolution (e.g., parsimony, likelihood, neutrality) can be used to test the accuracy of independent phylogenetic estimates and provide arguments in favor of one tree topology over another.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The Curve-billed Reedhaunter (Limnornis curvirostris) and the Straight-billed Reedhaunter (Lim- noctites rectirostris) are marsh-dwelling ovenbirds that were first collected by Charles Darwin in Uruguay. Each has a limited distribution in southernmost Brazil, Uruguay, and northern Argentina, within which the birds occupy very distinct habitats. Originally described as congeners because of overall similarity of plum- age, the two species have been treated as close relatives through most of their history despite obvious structural differences. We analyzed DNA sequences from three different genes of these species, compar- ing them with a wide variety of other species of Furnariidae and several outgroup taxa. Limnoctites rectirostris belongs among the species traditionally placed in Cranioleuca, being most closely related to the marsh- dwelling Sulphur-throated Spinetail (C. sulphurifera) among the species we sampled. This is supported by vocalizations and nidification. Limnornis curvirostris forms a clade with the Wren-like Rushbird (Phleocryptes melanops), with the Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper (Lochmias nematura) as a rather distant sister-taxon. A close relationship between Limnornis and Phleocryptes is supported by the apparently unique nest architecture and blue-green egg color. Accepted 5 April 2005.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    A robust phylogeny estimate for the family Furnariidae (sensu lato) was obtained using sequences of two nuclear introns and one mitochondrial gene (cyt b). Contrary to the widely accepted sister-group relationship of ovenbirds (Furnariinae) and woodcreepers (Dendrocolaptinae), a basal clade is suggested for Sclerurus and Geositta, while Xenops, hitherto considered an aberrant ovenbird, was found to occupy a basal position on the woodcreeper lineage. The morphological variation is re-interpreted in view of this revised phylogenetic hypothesis. Presumably, the remarkable adaptive radiation in this family started as primitive, Sclerurus-likes forms, which used the tail as a prop during terrestrial feeding, lured up to seek food on tree-trunks. The two basal woodcreeper genera, Xenops and then Glyphorynchus, show strong cranial specializations for hammering in wood, thus presenting a remarkable parallelism with the family Picidae, Xenops resembling a piculet, Glyphorynchus, a diminutive woodpecker. However, this specialization was lost in other woodcreepers, which show a more normal passerine skull, adapted for probing and prying in tree-trunk crevices and sallying for escaping insects. The ovenbirds developed a more flexible (rhynchokinetic) bill, well suited for probing and retrieving hidden prey in dead-leaf clusters and debris suspended in the vegetation, and in epiphyte masses. Adaptations to live in open terrain are secondary.
  • Chapter
    The chapter focuses on problems associated with resolving mt-haplotype trees from DNA sequence data. Specifically, it assesses the value of cytochrome b gene (cyt b) as a source of characters for inferring avian phylogenies, and tries to determine a window in the systematic hierarchy of birds where cyt b sequence should result in the efficient resolution of phylogenetic relationships. The mitochondrially encoded cyt b gene is good for avian systematics, but its utility is greatest in resolving the diversification of birds from the level of species (or subspecies) to subfamilies, and families in some instances. At higher taxonomic levels, cyt b might provide some resolution, but sequencing another gene may be a better investment. In birds, diverging cyt b sequences accrue transition substitutions at a rapid, and more or less constant, rate to the level of distinct genera within tribes, and transversions continue to accrue in a similar manner to the approximate level of superfamilies. These substitutions are primarily synonymous as evidenced by a comparison of the synonymous and nonsynonymous substitution columns. Rather than verifying every nucleotide for a single specimen by sequencing both DNA strands, it is better to sequence one strand for two specimens, thus, keeping the cost the same but greatly reducing the chances of reporting a contaminant sequence.
  • Article
    A phylogeny of 42 species representing the 13 genera of woodcreepers (Furnariidae: Dendrocolaptinae) was constructed by means of a numerical-cladistic analysis of morphological characters from the hindlimb muscles, bill, nostrils, feet, and tail. A tree stable at the generic level was produced, but the characters used did not effectively delineate relationships between species in the large genera Lepidocolaptes and Xiphorhynchus. Monophyly of the Dendrocolaptinae was supported. Drymornis bridgesii was hypothesized to be the sister species of the other woodcreepers, followed by Nasica longirostris. Beyond these forms, the genera Dendrocincla, Deconychura, Sittasomus, and Glyphorhynchus lie basal to the remaining genera. This is consistent with their recognition as "intermediate forms," although the basal position of Drymornis and Nasica does not agree with that hypothesis. Among polytypic genera, the monophyly of Dendrocincla, Campylorhamphus, Xiphocolaptes, and Dendrocolaptes was supported, whereas Deconychura appears to be paraphyletic. Monophyly of Hylexetastes, Xiphorhynchus, and Lepidocolaptes remains uncertain.
  • Article
    We performed a phylogenetic analysis of the hindlimb musculature in the Passerine genera Margarornis, Premnornis, Premnoplex, and Roraimia (collectively known as the Margarornis assemblage or "treerunners") in order to determine their affinities with one another and with the Dendrocolaptinae, a related, monophyletic group with similar scansorial habits. We conclude that the treerunners are not part of the dendrocolaptine clade, for they lack the synapomorphies of that group. The treerunners themselves are shown to be monophyletic on the basis of five derived character states. Lochmias nematura, despite its outward similarity to Margarornis squamiger, is excluded from the treerunner assemblage by the absence of the derived character states diagnosing that clade.
  • Book
    — We studied sequence variation in 16S rDNA in 204 individuals from 37 populations of the land snail Candidula unifasciata (Poiret 1801) across the core species range in France, Switzerland, and Germany. Phylogeographic, nested clade, and coalescence analyses were used to elucidate the species evolutionary history. The study revealed the presence of two major evolutionary lineages that evolved in separate refuges in southeast France as result of previous fragmentation during the Pleistocene. Applying a recent extension of the nested clade analysis (Templeton 2001), we inferred that range expansions along river valleys in independent corridors to the north led eventually to a secondary contact zone of the major clades around the Geneva Basin. There is evidence supporting the idea that the formation of the secondary contact zone and the colonization of Germany might be postglacial events. The phylogeographic history inferred for C. unifasciata differs from general biogeographic patterns of postglacial colonization previously identified for other taxa, and it might represent a common model for species with restricted dispersal.
  • Article
    The object of this review is to relate nest-building behavior to the origin and early evolution of passerine birds (Order Passeriformes). I present evidence for the hypoth-esis that the combination of small body size and the ability to place a constructed nest where the bird chooses, helped make possible a vast amount of adaptive radiation. A great diversity of potential habitats especially accessible to small birds was created in the late Tertiary by global climatic changes and by the continuing great evolutionary expansion of flowering plants and insects. Cavity or hole nests (in ground or tree), open-cup nests (outside of holes), and domed nests (with a constructed roof) were all present very early in evolution of the Passeriformes, as indicated by the presence of all three of these basic nest types among the most primitive families of living passerine birds. Secondary specializations of these basic nest types are illustrated in the largest and most successful families of suboscine birds. Nest site and nest form and structure often help characterize the genus, as is exemplified in the suboscines by the ovenbirds (Furnariidae), a large family that builds among the most diverse nests of any family of birds. The domed nest is much more common among passerines than in non-passerines, and it is especially frequent among the very smallest passerine birds the world over. Each basic type of nest built by passerines has advantages and disadvantages in specific ecological situations, and nest type depends on a balance of multiple factors that involve the nest site, the physical environment, the community, and the size and behavior of the birds.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    We performed a phylogenetic analysis of the hindlimb musculature in the Passerine genera Margarornis, Premnornis, Premnoplex, and Roraimia (collectively known as the Margarornis assemblage or "treerunners") in order to determine their affinities with one another and with the Dendrocolaptinae, a related, monophyletic group with similar scansorial habits. We conclude that the treerunners are not part of the dendrocolaptine clade, for they lack the synapomorphies of that group. The treerunners themselves are shown to be monophyletic on the basis of five derived character states. Lochmias nematura, despite its outward similarity to Margarornis squamiger, is excluded from the treerunner assemblage by the absence of the derived character states diagnosing that clade.
  • Family Furnariidae (Ovenbirds). – In: del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. and Christie, D. (eds). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Broadbills to Tapaculos. BirdLife International and Lynx Edicions; Cambridge U.K
    • J. V. Remsen
    • J. V. Remsen
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    Describes a group of large flightless, flesh-eating birds known as phorusrhacoids, which lived from 62 million years to about 2.5 million years ago, and which became the dominant carnivores of South America. The history of their discovery and taxonomic classification, the reconstruction of their appearance from fossil remains, their mode of life, and their nearest living relatives, are described. The creatures ranged in height from one to three metres, and were able to kill and eat animals the size of small horses. By about five million years ago phorusrhacoids had completely replaced their nearest competitors, the doglike borhyaenoids, on the savannas of South America. However, their decline came soon after, following the emergence of the Panamanian land bridge, and the dispersion into South America of new competitors in the form of placental dogs and cats. -G.E.Hodgson
  • Article
    An accurately resolved gene tree may not be congruent with the species tree because of lineage sorting of ancestral polymorphisms. DNA sequences from the mitochondrially encoded genes (mtDNA) are attractive sources of characters for estimating the phylogenies of recently evolved taxa because mtDNA evolves rapidly, but its utility is limited because the mitochondrial genes are inherited as a single linkage group (haplotype) and provide only one independent estimate of the species tree. In contrast, a set of nuclear genes can be selected from distinct chromosomes, such that each gene tree provides an independent estimate of the species tree. Another aspect of the gene-tree versus species-tree problem, however, favors the use of mtDNA for inferring species trees. For a three-species segment of a phylogeny, the branching order of a gene tree will correspond to that of the species tree if coalescence of the alleles or haplotypes occurred in the internode between the first and second bifurcation. From neutral theory, it is apparent that the probability of coalescence increases as effective population size decreases. Because the mitochondrial genome is maternally inherited and effectively haploid, its effective population size is one-fourth that of a nuclear-autosomal gene. Thus, the mitochondrial-haplotype tree has a substantially higher probability of accurately tracking a short internode than does a nuclear-autosomal-gene tree. When an internode is sufficiently long that the probability that the mitochondrial-haplotype tree will be congruent with the species tree is 0.95, the probability that a nuclear-autosomal-gene tree will be congruent is only 0.62. If each of kappa independently sampled nuclear-gene trees has a probability of congruence with the species tree of 0.62, then a sample of 16 such trees would be required to be as confident of the inference based on the mitochondrial-haplotype tree. A survey of mtDNA-haplotype diversity in 34 species of birds indicates that coalescence is generally very recent, which suggests that coalescence times are typically much shorter than internodal branch lengths of the species tree, and that sorting of mtDNA lineages is not likely to confound the species tree. Hybridization resulting in transfer of mtDNA haplotypes among branches could also result in a haplotype tree that is incongruent with the species tree; if undetected, this could confound the species tree. However, hybridization is usually easy to detect and should be incorporated in the historical narrative of the group, because reticulation, as well as cladistic events, contributed to the evolution of the group.
  • Conference Paper
    In this paper it is shown that the classical maximum likelihood principle can be considered to be a method of asymptotic realization of an optimum estimate with respect to a very general information theoretic criterion. This observation shows an extension of the principle to provide answers to many practical problems of statistical model fitting.
  • Article
    The woodcreepers is a highly specialized lineage within the New World suboscine radiation. Most systematic studies of higher level relationships of this group rely on morphological characters, and few studies utilizing molecular data exist. In this paper, we present a molecular phylogeny of the major lineages of woodcreepers (Aves: Dendrocolaptinae), based on nucleotide sequence data from a nuclear non-coding gene region (myoglobin intron II) and a protein-coding mitochondrial gene (cytochrome b). A good topological agreement between the individual gene trees suggests that the resulting phylogeny reflects the true evolutionary history of woodcreepers well. However, the DNA-based phylogeny conflicts with the results of a parsimony analysis of morphological characters. The topological differences mainly concern the basal branches of the trees. The morphological data places the genus Drymornis in a basal position (mainly supported by characters in the hindlimb), while our data suggests it to be derived among woodcreepers. Unlike most other woodcreepers, Drymornis is ground-adapted, as are the ovenbirds. The observed morphological similarities between Drymornis and the ovenbird outgroup may thus be explained with convergence or with reversal to an ancestral state. This observation raises the question of the use of characters associated with locomotion and feeding in phylogenetic reconstruction based on parsimony.
  • Article
    Phylogenetic relationships among animal populations and species commonly have been inferred from patterns of variation observed within a single gene system, most often the mitochondrial genome. Analysis of restriction site variation in the mitochondrial DNA of two species of white-eye (Zosterops lateralis and Z. lutea) in Australia produced a single gene tree that does not accurately represent the organismal tree. In contrast, patterns of variation at two anonymous, single-copy nuclear DNA loci revealed a phylogeography consistent with traditional classification of the species. Discordance between mitochondrial DNA and single-copy nuclear DNA variation is probably the result of past hybridization between Z. lateralis and Z. lutea, evidence of which has been lost from the nuclear genome by recombination. This study provides a clear empirical demonstration that single gene genealogies cannot be assumed to accurately represent the true phylogenies, and emphasizes the need for composite genetic analyses.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Exploration of the relationship between gene trees and their containing species trees leads to consideration of how to reconstruct species trees from gene trees and of the concept of phylogeny as a cloud of gene histories. When gene copies are sampled from various species, the gene tree relating these copies might disagree with the species phylogeny. This discord can arise from horizontal transfer (including hybridization), lineage sorting, and gene duplication and extinction. Lineage sorting could also be called deep coalescence , the failure of ancestral copies to coalesce (looking backwards in time) into a common ancestral copy until deeper than previous speciation events. These events depend on various factors; for instance, deep coalescence is more likely if the branches of the species tree are short (in generations) and wide (in population size). A similar dependence on process is found in historical biogeography and host-parasite relationships. Each of the processes of discord could yield a different parsimony criterion for reconstructing the species tree from a set of gene trees: with horizontal transfer, choose the species tree that minimizes the number of transfer events; with deep coalescence, choose the tree minimizing the number of extra gene lineages that had to coexist along species lineages; with gene duplication, choose the tree minimizing duplication and/or extinction events. Maximum likelihood methods for reconstructing the species tree are also possible because coalescence theory provides the probability that a particular gene tree would occur given a species tree (with branch lengths and widths specified). In considering these issues, one is provoked to reconsider precisely what is phylogeny. Perhaps it is misleading to view some gene trees as agreeing and other gene trees as disagreeing with the species tree; rather, all of the gene trees are part of the species tree, which can be visualized like a fuzzy statistical distribution, a cloud of gene histories. Alternatively, phylogeny might be (and has been) viewed not as a history of what happened, genetically, but as a history of what could have happened, i.e., a history of changes in the probabilities of inter-breeding.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Many evolutionary studies use comparisons across species to detect evidence of natural selection and to examine the rate of character evolution. Statistical analyses in these studies are usually performed by means of a species phylogeny to accommodate the effects of shared evolutionary history. The phylogeny is usually treated as known without error; this assumption is problematic because inferred phylogenies are subject to both stochastic and systematic errors. We describe methods for accommodating phylogenetic uncertainty in evolutionary studies by means of Bayesian inference. The methods are computationally intensive but general enough to be applied in most comparative evolutionary studies.
  • Article
    The bird fauna of Madagascar includes a high proportion of endemic species, particularly among passerine birds (Aves: Passeriformes). The endemic genera of Malagasy songbirds are not allied obviously with any African or Asiatic taxa, and their affinities have been debated since the birds first were described. We used mitochondrial sequence data to estimate the relationships of 13 species of endemic Malagasy songbirds, 17 additional songbird species, and one species of suboscine passerine. In our optimal trees, nine of the 13 Malagasy species form a clade. although these birds currently are classified in three different families. In all optimal trees, the sister to this endemic clade is a group of Old World warblers including both African and Malagasy birds. The endemic Malagasy songbird clade rivals other island radiations, including the vangas of Madagascar and the finches of the Galapagos, in ecological diversity.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The unwitting inclusion of convergent characters in phylogenetic estimates poses a serious problem for efforts to recover phylogeny. Convergence is not inscrutable, however, particularly when one group of characters tracks phylogeny and another set tracks adaptive history. In such cases, convergent characters may be correlated with one or a few functional anatomical units and readily identifiable by using comparative methods. Stifftail ducks (Oxyurinae) offer one such opportunity to study correlated character evolution and function in the context of phylogenetic reconstruction. Morphological analyses place stifftail ducks as part of a large clade of diving ducks that includes the sea ducks (Mergini), Hymenolaimus, Merganetta, and Tachyeres, and possibly the pochards (Aythyini). Molecular analyses, on the other hand, place stifftails far from other diving ducks and suggest, moreover, that stifftails are polyphyletic. Mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences of eight stifftail species traditionally supposed to form a clade were compared with each other and with sequences from 50 other anseriform and galliform species. Stifftail ducks are not the sister group of sea ducks but lie outside the typical ducks (Anatinae). Of the four traditional stifftail genera, monophyly of Oxyura and its sister group relationship with Nomonyx are strongly supported. Heteronetta probably is the sister group of that clade, but support is weak. Biziura is not a true stifftail. Within Oxyura, Old World species (O. australis, O. leucocephala, O. maccoa) appear to form a clade, with New World species (O. jamaicensis, O. vittata) branching basally. Incongruence between molecules and morphology is interpreted to be the result of adaptive specialization and functional convergence in the hind limbs of Biziura and true stifftails. When morphological characters are divided into classes, only hind-limb characters are significantly in conflict with the molecular tree. Likewise, null models of synonymous and nonsynonymous substitution based on patterns of codon-degeneracy and chemical dissimilarity indicate that the nucleotide and amino acid changes postulated by the molecular tree are more plausible than those postulated by the morphological tree. These findings teach general lessons about the utility of highly adaptive characters (in particular those related to foraging ecology) and underscore the problems that convergence can pose for attempts to recover phylogeny. They also demonstrate how the concept of natural data partitions and simple models of evolution (e.g., parsimony, likelihood, neutrality) can be used to test the accuracy of independent phylogenetic estimates and provide arguments in favor of one tree topology over another.
  • Article
    Based on their highly specialized "tracheophone" syrinx, the avian families Furnariidae (ovenbirds), Dendrocolaptidae (woodcreepers), Formicariidae (ground antbirds), Thamnophilidae (typical antbirds), Rhinocryptidae (tapaculos), and Conopophagidae (gnateaters) have long been recognized to constitute a monophyletic group of suboscine passerines. However, the monophyly of these families have been contested and their interrelationships are poorly understood, and this constrains the possibilities for interpreting adaptive tendencies in this very diverse group. In this study we present a higher-level phylogeny and classification for the tracheophone birds based on phylogenetic analyses of sequence data obtained from 32 ingroup taxa. Both mitochondrial (cytochrome b) and nuclear genes (c-myc, RAG-1, and myoglobin) have been sequenced, and more than 3000 bp were subjected to parsimony and maximum-likelihood analyses. The phylogenetic signals in the mitochondrial and nuclear genes were compared and found to be very similar. The results from the analysis of the combined dataset (all genes, but with transitions at third codon positions in the cytochrome b excluded) partly corroborate previous phylogenetic hypotheses, but several novel arrangements were also suggested. Especially interesting is the result that the genus Melanopareia represents a basal branch within the tracheophone group, positioned in the phylogenetic tree well away from the typical tapaculos with which it has been supposed to group. Other novel results include the observation that the ground antbirds are paraphyletic and that Sclerurus is the sister taxon to an ovenbird-woodcreeper clade. Patterns of generic richness within each clade suggest that the early differentiation of feeble-winged forest groups took place south of the Amazon Basin, while the more recent diversification was near the equator and (in tapaculos and ovenbirds) in the south of the continent.
  • Article
    Phylogenetic relationships of the lyrebirds are investigated using DNA sequence data. The aligned data matrix consists of 4027 bp obtained from three nuclear genes (c-myc, RAG-1 and myoglobin intron II) and two mitochondrial genes (cytochrome b and ND2). Both maximum-likelihood and parsimony analyses show that the lyrebirds unambiguously belong to the oscine radiation, and that they are the sister taxon to all other oscines. The results do not support the suggestion based on DNA-DNA hybridization data (Sibley and Ahlquist, 1990) that the treecreepers and bowerbirds are part of the lyrebird clade. Nevertheless, treecreepers and bowerbirds are sister taxa to all other oscines (except the lyrebirds) and may constitute a monophyletic group, although bootstrap support values for this clade are low. A major disagreement between the present analysis and that based on DNA-DNA hybridization data is that the Corvida (sensu Sibley and Ahlquist, 1990) and Passerida are not reciprocally monophyletic, as we find the latter group be nested within the Corvida. Also, the superfamilies Meliphagoidea and Corvoidea sensu, are not recovered as monophyletic in the present study. Within the oscine radiation, all taxa belonging to the earliest splits are confined to the Australo-Papuan region. This suggests strongly that the origins and early radiation of the oscines occurred in the southern supercontinent Gondwana. A new classification of the major groups of passerines is presented following from the results presented in the present study, as well as those published recently on analyses of sequence data from the nuclear c-myc and RAG-1 genes (Ericson et al., 2002; Irestedt et al., 2001).
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Only recently has Bayesian inference of phylogeny been proposed. The method is now a practical alternative to the other methods; indeed, the method appears to possess advantages over the other methods in terms of ability to use complex models of evolution, ease of interpretation of the results, and computational efficiency. However, the method should be used cautiously. The results of a Bayesian analysis should be examined with respect to the sensitivity of the results to the priors used and the reliability of the Markov chain Monte Carlo approximation of the probabilities of trees.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The construction of evolutionary trees is now a standard part of exploratory sequence analysis. Bayesian methods for estimating trees have recently been proposed as a faster method of incorporating the power of complex statistical models into the process. Researchers who rely on comparative analyses need to understand the theoretical and practical motivations that underlie these new techniques, and how they differ from previous methods. The ability of the new approaches to address previously intractable questions is making phylogenetic analysis an essential tool in an increasing number of areas of genetic research.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    MrBayes 3 performs Bayesian phylogenetic analysis combining information from different data partitions or subsets evolving under different stochastic evolutionary models. This allows the user to analyze heterogeneous data sets consisting of different data types—e.g. morphological, nucleotide, and protein—and to explore a wide variety of structured models mixing partition-unique and shared parameters. The program employs MPI to parallelize Metropolis coupling on Macintosh or UNIX clusters. Availability: http://morphbank.ebc.uu.se/mrbayes Contact: fredrik.ronquist{at}ebc.uu.se
  • Article
    The distribution of species richness in families of passerine birds suggests that the net rate of diversification was significantly higher than average in as many as 7 out of 47 families. However, the absence of excess species richness among the 106 tribes within these families indicates that these high rates were transient, perhaps associated in some cases with tectonic movements or dispersal events that extended geographical ranges. Thus, large clade size among passerine birds need not represent intrinsic key innovations that influence the rate of diversification. Approximately 17 families and 30 tribes have too few species relative to other passerine taxa. Many of these are ecologically or geographically marginal, being especially overrepresented in the Australasian region. Observed intervals between lineage splitting suggest that extinction has occurred ca. 90% as frequently as speciation (waiting times of 1.03 and 0.93 Myr) and that the 47 modern families comprising 5712 species descended from approximately 430 passerine lineages extant 24 Myr ago. Speciation and extinction rates among small, marginal families might be 1-2 orders of magnitude lower.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Passerine birds are very plastic in their adaptations, which has made it difficult to define phylogenetic lineages and correctly allocate all species to these. Sapayoa aenigma, a member of the large group of New World flycatchers, has been difficult to place, and DNA-DNA hybridization experiments have indicated that it may have been misplaced. This is confirmed here, as base sequencing of two nuclear genes places it as a deep branch in the group of broadbills and pittas of the Old World tropics. The peculiar distribution of this lineage may be best explained in terms of a Gondwanic and Late Cretaceous origin of the passerine birds, as this particular lineage dispersed from the Antarctic landmass, reaching the Old World tropics via the drifting Indian plate, and South America via the West Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Article
    Phylogenetic relationships among New World suboscine birds were studied using nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences. New World suboscines were shown to constitute two distinct lineages, one apparently consisting of the single species Sapayoa aenigma, the other made up of the remaining 1000+ species of New World suboscines. With the exception of Sapayoa, monophyly of New World suboscines was strongly corroborated, and monophyly within New World suboscines of a tyrannoid clade and a furnarioid clade was likewise strongly supported. Relationships among families and subfamilies within these clades, however, differed in several respects from current classifications of suboscines. Noteworthy results included: (1) monophyly of the tyrant-flycatchers (traditional family Tyrannidae), but only if the tityrines (see below) are excluded; (2) monophyly of the pipromorphine flycatchers (Pipromorphinae of ) as one of two primary divisions of a monophyletic restricted Tyrannidae; (3) monophyly of the tityrines, consisting of the genus Tityra plus all sampled species of the Schiffornis group (), as sister group to the manakins (traditional family Pipridae); (4) paraphyly of the ovenbirds (traditional family Furnariidae), if woodcreepers (traditional family Dendrocolaptidae) are excluded; and (5) polyphyly of the antbirds (traditional family Formicariidae) and paraphyly of the ground antbirds (Formicariidae sensu stricto). Genus Melanopareia (the crescent-chests), although clearly furnarioid, was found to be distant from other furnarioids and of uncertain affinities within the Furnarii. Likewise, the species Oxyruncus cristatus (the Sharpbill), although clearly tyrannoid, was distantly related to other tyrannoids and of uncertain affinities within the Tyranni. Results of this study provide support for some of the more novel features of the suboscine phylogeny of, but also reveal key differences, especially regarding relationships among suboscine families and subfamilies. The results of this study have potentially important implications for the reconstruction of character evolution in the suboscines, especially because the behavioral evolution of many suboscine groups (e.g., Furnariidae) is of great interest.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The typical antbirds (Thamnophilidae) form a monophyletic and diverse family of suboscine passerines that inhabit neotropical forests. However, the phylogenetic relationships within this assemblage are poorly understood. Herein, we present a hypothesis of the generic relationships of this group based on Bayesian inference analyses of two nuclear introns and the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. The level of phylogenetic congruence between the individual genes has been investigated utilizing Bayes factors. We also explore how changes in the substitution models affected the observed incongruence between partitions of our data set. The phylogenetic analysis supports both novel relationships, as well as traditional groupings. Among the more interesting novel relationship suggested is that the Terenura antwrens, the wing-banded antbird (Myrmornis torquata), the spot-winged antshrike (Pygiptila stellaris) and the russet antshrike (Thamnistes anabatinus) are sisters to all other typical antbirds. The remaining genera fall into two major clades. The first includes antshrikes, antvireos and the Herpsilochmus antwrens, while the second clade consists of most antwren genera, the Myrmeciza antbirds, the "professional" ant-following antbirds, and allied species. Our results also support previously suggested polyphyly of Myrmotherula antwrens and Myrmeciza antbirds. The tests of phylogenetic incongruence, using Bayes factors, clearly suggests that allowing the gene partitions to have separate topology parameters clearly increased the model likelihood. However, changing a component of the nucleotide substitution model had much higher impact on the model likelihood. The phylogenetic results are in broad agreement with traditional classification of the typical antbirds, but some relationships are unexpected based on external morphology. In these cases their true affinities may have been obscured by convergent evolution and morphological adaptations to new habitats or food sources, and genera like Myrmeciza antbirds and the Myrmotherula antwrens obviously need taxonomic revisions. Although, Bayes factors seem promising for evaluating the relative contribution of components to an evolutionary model, the results suggests that even if strong evidence for a model allowing separate topology parameters is found, this might not mean strong evidence for separate gene phylogenies, as long as vital components of the substitution model are still missing.