Aim We use parametric biogeographical reconstruction based on an extensive DNA sequence dataset to characterize the spatio-temporal pattern of colonization of the Old World monarch flycatchers (Monarchidae). We then use this framework to examine the role of dispersal and colonization in their evolutionary diversification and to compare plumages between island and continental Terpsiphone species.
Location Africa, Asia and the Indian Ocean.
Methods We generate a DNA sequence dataset of 2300 bp comprising one nuclear and three mitochondrial markers for 89% (17/19) of the Old World Monarchidae species and 70% of the Terpsiphone subspecies. By applying maximum likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic methods and implementing a Bayesian molecular clock to provide a temporal framework, we reveal the evolutionary history of the group. Furthermore, we employ both Lagrange and Bayes-Lagrange analyses to assess ancestral areas at each node of the phylogeny. By combining the ancestral area reconstruction with information on plumage traits we are able to compare patterns of plumage evolution on islands and continents.
Results We provide the first comprehensive molecular phylogenetic reconstruction for the Old World Monarchidae. Our phylogenetic results reveal a relatively recent diversification associated with several dispersal events within this group. Moreover, ancestral area analyses reveal an Asian origin of the Indian Ocean and African clades. Ancestral state reconstruction analyses of plumage characters provide an interpretation of the plumage differentiation on islands and continents. Ancestral plumage traits are inferred to be close to those of the Asian paradise-flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi), and island species display a high degree of plumage autapomorphy compared with continental species.
Main conclusions Terpsiphone paradisi is polyphyletic and comprises populations that have retained the ancestral plumage of the widespread Terpsiphone genus. The genus appears to have colonized south-west Asia, the Indian Ocean and Africa from eastern Asia. The phylogeny and divergence time estimates indicate multiple simultaneous colonizations of the western Old World by Terpsiphone. These results reinforce a hypothesis of range expansions of a Terpsiphone paradisi-like ancestor into eastern Asia and the western Old World.