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Peter Kovalik Monday 5th May 2014 19:19

IOC Update Diary:
May 5 Resequence Fernbird (Oreoscopus) to follow Goldenface at beginning of Acanthizidae
May 5 Resequence Goldenface (Pachycare) to beginning of Acanthizidae

Peter Kovalik Tuesday 14th January 2020 18:55

Amelia Coman, Sally Potter, Craig Moritz, Catriona D. Campbell & Leo Joseph. Biotic and abiotic drivers of evolution in some Australian thornbills (Passeriformes: Acanthiza) in allopatry, sympatry, and parapatry including a case of character displacement. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, First published: 13 January 2020


Disentangling historical, ecological, and abiotic drivers of diversity among closely related species can benefit from morphological diversity being placed in a phylogenetic context. It can also be aided when the species are variously in allopatry, parapatry, and sympatry. We studied a clade of Australian thornbills (Passeriformes: Acanthizidae: Acanthiza) comprising the Brown Thornbill (A. pusilla), Inland Thornbill (A. apicalis), Mountain Thornbill (A. katherina), and Tasmanian Thornbill (A. ewingii) whose distributions and ecology facilitate this approach. We first clarified phylogenetic relationships among them and then detected a low level of gene flow in parapatry between a non‐sister pair (Brown, Inland). Further work could partition relative roles of past and current hybridization. We identify likely cases of ecologically driven divergent selection and one of convergent evolution. Divergent selection was likely key to divergence of Inland Thornbills from the Brown–Mountain sister pair. In contrast, convergence in plumage between the non‐sister Brown and Inland Thornbills has been driven by their mesic forest habitats on opposite sides of the Australian continent. Finally, morphological distinctiveness of Tasmanian populations of Brown Thornbills could reflect character displacement in sympatry with the ecologically similar Tasmanian Thornbills. Collectively, the combined morphological, genetic, and ecological evidence points to diverse evolutionary processes operating across this closely related group of birds.

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