Fernbird closest to Australian Little Grassbird + Spinifexbird

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Michael Szabo
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Fernbird closest to Australian Little Grassbird + Spinifexbird

Postby Michael Szabo » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:02 pm

This new genetic study places Fernbird closest to Australian Little Grassbird and Spinifexbird.

Comprehensive molecular phylogeny of the grassbirds and allies (Locustellidae) reveals extensive non-monophyly of traditional genera, and a proposal for a new classification.

P Alstrom et al. in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 3 April 2018 (online)

Abstract: The widespread Old World avian family Locustellidae ('grassbirds and allies') comprises 62 extant species in 11 genera. In the present study, we used one mitochondrial and, for most species, four nuclear loci to infer the phylogeny of this family. We analysed 59 species, including the five previously unsampled genera plus two genera that had not before been analysed in a densely sampled dataset. This study revealed extensive disagreement with current taxonomy; the genera Bradypterus, Locustella, Megalurus, Megalurulus and Schoenicola were all found to be non-monophyletic. Non-monophyly was particularly pronounced for Megalurus, which was widely scattered across the tree. Three of the five monotypic genera (Amphilais, Buettikoferella and Malia) were nested within other genera; one monotypic genus (Chaetornis) formed a clade with one of the two species of Schoenicola; whereas the position of the fifth monotypic genus (Elaphrornis) was unresolved. Robsonius was confirmed as sister to the other genera. We propose a phylogenetically informed revision of genus-level taxonomy, including one new generic name. Finally, we highlight several non-monophyletic species complexes and deep intra-species divergences that point to conflict in taxonomy and suggest an underestimation of current species diversity in this group.

Link to taxonomic tree graphic: https://scontent.fpmr1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/ ... e=5B5ABB09

Link to paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... via%3Dihub
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Ian Southey
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Re: Fernbird closest to Australian Little Grassbird + Spinifexbird

Postby Ian Southey » Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:37 am

I found another link to the paper that I could access here although I have yet to read it properly:

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Pe ... cation.pdf

Discussion on fernbirds in this forum has become fragmented with other bits here viewtopic.php?f=13&t=6196&p=30592&hilit=fernbird#p30592 and here viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4675

It looks like Paul's determined resistance to placing them in Megalurus was well founded. Pulling the Little Grassbird out from that genus and placing it near fernbirds matches a much older indication but whether or not they are the same genus (which would be Poodytes) or not seems to be a bit arbitrary but perhaps not unreasonable. I know nothing about Spinifexbirds.

Another interesting finding includes DNA from Chatham and Snares Fernbirds showing them to be quite distinct from North Island Fernbirds and supports recognising them as species.

Ian
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Michael Szabo
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Re: Fernbird closest to Australian Little Grassbird + Spinifexbird

Postby Michael Szabo » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:40 am

Thanks for posting the link to the full PDF, Ian.

Here is the relevant paragraph in the text covering the Snares and Chatham Fernbirds, and the relationship of the extinct Chatham Island Fernbird to Megalurulus rufus:
"A deep split (2.2. mya; 95% HPD 1.4–3.1 mya) was also found between the Megalurus punctatus caudatus (confined to Snares Island, New Zealand) and M. p. vealeae (North Island, New Zealand). The former has recently been treated as a distinct species based on morphological characters (del Hoyo and Collar, 2016). Our single sample of the extinct M. rufescens from Chatham Island, New Zealand is deeply diverged from M. punctatus. These two taxa are often treated as conspecific (e.g. Dickinson and Christidis, 2014), although del Hoyo and Collar (2016) treated them as separate species based on morphological differences. However, the suggestion by del Hoyo and Collar’s (2016) that M. rufescens might be most closely related to Megalurulus rufus is strongly rejected by our data."
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