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A nuclear DNA phylogeny and proposed taxonomic revision of African greenbuls (Aves, Passeriformes, Pycnonotidae)

Authors

  • Ulf S. Johansson,

  • Jon Fjeldså,

  • L. G. Sampath Lokugalappatti,

  • Rauri C. K Bowie


  • doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2007.00290.x

Correponding author: Ulf S. Johansson, DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa and Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Box 50007, SE-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail: JHNULF001@uct.ac.za
Jon Fjeldså, Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark. E-mail: jfjeldsaa@snm.ku.dk
L.G. Sampath Lokugalappatti, DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa. E-mail: lgs@sun.ac.za
Rauri C.K. Bowie, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and Department of Integrative Biology, 3101 Valley Life Science Building, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3160, USA and DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa. E-mail: bowie@berkeley.edu

Abstract

The Pycnonotidae (bulbuls and greenbuls) comprise approximately 130 species and are widely distributed across Africa and Asia, mainly in evergreen thickets and forest. Recent molecular findings suggest a basal split between the African and the Asian species, although the three African Pycnonotus species are part of the Asian radiation and represent a relative recent immigration to Africa. In this study we investigate the phylogenetic relationships within the African clade, which with the exclusion of Pycnonotus contains approximately 50 species, of which the majority are placed in three large genera Andropadus, Phyllastrephus and Chlorocichla. We use three nuclear markers (myoglobin intron 2, ODC introns 6 and 7 along with intervening exon 7, and β-fibrinogen intron 5), together encompassing 2072 aligned positions, to infer the relationships within the African clade. The resulting tree is generally well supported and indicates that none of the three largest currently recognized genera are monophyletic. For instance, the species included in Andropadus represent three different clades that are not each other's closest relatives. The montane species currently placed in that genus form a strongly supported clade, which is sister to Ixonotus, Thescelocichla, Baeopogon and Chlorocichla, although within this clade the genus Chlorocichla is polyphyletic. The remaining Andropadus species fall into two groups, one of these with A. importunus and A. gracilirostris, which along with Calyptocichla serina form a basal branch in the African greenbul radiation. In support of some previous studies the Leaf-love (Pyrrhurus scandens) is placed within Phyllastrephus. We also propose a new classification that reflects the phylogenetic relationships among African greenbuls.

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