Comprehensive Barn Owl taxonomy paper published

Discussion about the evolution, relationships, and naming of New Zealand birds
User avatar
Michael Szabo
Posts: 1452
Joined: Sun May 08, 2011 12:30 pm

Comprehensive Barn Owl taxonomy paper published

Postby Michael Szabo » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:04 am

Comprehensive molecular phylogeny of barn owls and relatives (Family: Tytonidae), and their six major Pleistocene radiations
Uva Vera, Päckert Martin, Cibois Alice, Fumagalli Luca, Roulin Alexandre,
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, In Press March 2018.

The owl family Tytonidae comprises two genera: Phodilus, limited to the forests of central Africa and South-East Asia, and the ubiquitous Tyto. The genus Tyto is majorly represented by the cosmopolitan Common Barn Owl group, with more than 30 subspecies worldwide. Discrete differences in body size and plumage colouration have led to the classification of this family into many species and subspecies, but the taxonomic status and phylogenetic relationships between taxa remain unclear, and in some groups controversial. Although several previous studies attempted to resolve this problem, they have been limited in their taxonomic and geographical coverage, or have relied on restricted molecular evidence and low sample sizes. Based on the most comprehensive sampling to date (16 out of 17 Tyto species, and one out of three Phodilus species), a multi-locus approach using seven mitochondrial and two nuclear markers, and taking advantage of field data and museum collections available worldwide, our main questions in this study were: 1) what are the phylogenetic relationships and classification status of the whole family; 2) when and where did the most important speciation events occur?. We confirm that the Common Barn Owl, Tyto alba is divided into three main evolutionary units: 1) the American Barn Owl, T. furcata; 2) the Western Barn Owl, T. alba; and 3) the Eastern Barn Owl, T. javanica, and suggest a Late Miocene (ca. 6 mya) Australasian and African origin of the group. Our results are supported by fossil age information, given that the most recent common ancestor between the Tytonidae genera Phodilus and Tyto was probably from the Oligocene (ca. 28 mya) of Australasia. We finally reveal six major Pleistocene radiations of Tyto, all resulting in wide-range distributions.

Link to abstract: ... 0317306115

Link to higher resolution taxonomic tree graphic: ... e=5B32B9A1
'Birds New Zealand' Facebook group:

Return to “Bird Taxonomy and Nomenclature”