• Amazonia;
  • biogeography;
  • birds;
  • Brotogeris;
  • diversification;
  • molecular clock;
  • molecular phylogeny;
  • Neotropics;
  • Psittacidae;
  • South America


Aim  We present a molecular phylogenetic analysis of Brotogeris (Psittacidae) using several distinct and complementary approaches: we test the monophyly of the genus, delineate the basal taxa within it, uncover their phylogenetic relationships, and finally, based on these results, we perform temporal and spatial comparative analyses to help elucidate the historical biogeography of the Neotropical region.

Location  Neotropical lowlands, including dry and humid forests.

Methods  Phylogenetic relationships within Brotogeris were investigated using the complete sequences of the mitochondrial genes cyt b and ND2, and partial sequences of the nuclear intron 7 of the gene for Beta Fibrinogen for all eight species and 12 of the 17 taxa recognized within the genus (total of 63 individuals). In order to delinetae the basal taxa within the genus we used both molecular and plumage variation, the latter being based on the examination of 597 skin specimens. Dates of divergence and confidence intervals were estimated using penalized likelihood. Spatial and temporal comparative analyses were performed including several closely related parrot genera.

Results Brotogeris was found to be a monophyletic genus, sister to Myiopsitta. The phylogenetic analyses recovered eight well-supported clades representing the recognized biological species. Although some described subspecies are diagnosably distinct based on morphology, there was generally little intraspecific mtDNA variation. The Amazonian species had different phylogenetic affinities and did not group in a monophyletic clade. Brotogeris diversification took place during the last 6 Myr, the same time-frame as previously found for Pionus and Pyrilia.

Main conclusions  The biogeographical history of Brotogeris implies a dynamic history for South American biomes since the Pliocene. It corroborates the idea that the geological evolution of Amazonia has been important in shaping its biodiversity, argues against the idea that the region has been environmentally stable during the Quaternary, and suggests dynamic interactions between wet and dry forest habitats in South America, with representatives of the Amazonian biota having several independent close relationships with taxa endemic to other biomes.