Relationships of the New Guinean songbird genera Amalocichla and Pachycare based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences

Authors

  • Janette A. Norman,

  • Walter E. Boles,

  • Les Christidis


J. A. Norman (correspondence), Sci. Dept., Mus. Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne Vic. 3001, Australia and Dept. of Genetics, Univ. of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3052 Australia. Email: janorman@unimelb.edu.au– W. Boles, Div. of Res. and Coll., Australian Mus., 6 College St. Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia. – L. Christidis, Dept. of Genetics, Univ. of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3052 Australia and Div. of Res. and Coll., Australian Mus., 6 College St., Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.

Abstract

The New Guinean songbird fauna contains numerous enigmatic species and genera whose phylogenetic affinities have been difficult to resolve. Two such genera are ditypic Amalocichla and monotypic Pachycare. Here we obtained DNA sequences of two nuclear gene regions and a mitochondrial gene to ascertain the phylogenetic positions of these genera. Amalocichla was identified as the sister of the Australasian robins (Petroicidae) contrary to most recent classifications, which align it with the New Guinean mouse-warblers Crateroscelis in the family Acanthizidae. The morphological characters used to place Amalocichla in the Acanthizidae appear to be convergent and linked to ground-living adaptations. Pachycare was found to be most closely related to the Acanthizidae and not to the Pachycephalidae, corvine assemblage, or Petroicidae, as most commonly assumed. Morphological and behavioural characters support the molecular data in this conclusion. Previous taxonomic placements appear to have been based on superficial similarities in plumage coloration and vocal characterizations.

Ancillary