Ancient differentiation in the single-island avian radiation of endemic Hispaniolan chat-tanagers (Aves: Calyptophilus)


Andrea K. Townsend, Fax: 607-254-2415; E-mail:


The simple geographic structure of island systems often makes them tractable for studies of the patterns and processes of biological diversification. The Calyptophilus chat-tanagers of Hispaniola are of general evolutionary interest because their multiple lineages might have arisen on a single island, of conservation concern because several isolated populations are nearly extinct, and taxonomically ambiguous because they have been variously lumped or split into one to four species. To explore the context of diversification of the seven extant Calyptophilus populations, we conducted a multilocus coalescent analysis based on sequences of mitochondrial ND2 and three nuclear intron loci. We then compared patterns of phylogeographic genetic variation with the morphological differences that distinguish these populations. Mitochondrial haplotypes formed two reciprocally monophyletic groups separated by a large magnitude of nucleotide divergence. Intron structure largely paralleled the geographic grouping pattern of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), but these groups were only reciprocally monophyletic at one of the three introns. Also, the magnitude of between-group divergence was much lower in the introns than mtDNA genealogies. Multilocus coalescent analyses inferred a nonzero divergence time between these two major geographic groups, but suggested that they have experienced a low level of gene flow. All four markers showed substantial allele sharing within each of the two groups, demonstrating that many now separated montane populations do not have long histories of isolation. Considered in concert, our multilocus phylogeographic reconstructions support the recognition of two species within the Calyptophilus complex, and raise the possibility that these taxa differentiated prior to the fusion of the two palaeo-islands that form present-day Hispaniola.