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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2005 Aug;36(2):288-304. Epub 2005 Mar 17.

Phylogeny and comparative biogeography of Pionopsitta parrots and Pteroglossus toucans.

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  • 1Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 2072, Balboa, Panama.


Studies of Neotropical birds, and their distributions and areas of endemism, in particular, have been central in the formulation of hypotheses proposed to explain the high species diversity in the Neotropics. We used mtDNA sequence data (ATPase 6 and 8, COI, and cyt b) to reconstruct the species-level phylogenies for two genera, Pionopsitta (Aves: Psittacidae) and Pteroglossus (Aves: Ramphastidae), compare our results with previous morphology-based phylogenetic analyses, and estimate the absolute timing of lineage and biogeographic divergences. Both the Pionopsitta and Pteroglossus phylogenies support a hypothesis of area relationships in which a divergence of the Serra do Mar (Atlantic Forest, Brazil) region of endemism is followed by the divergence of cis- and trans-Andean regions, then a split between the upper and lower Amazon basin, next the divergence of the Guyana area, and finally diversification of taxa in the upper Amazon basin's areas of endemism. Phylogenies of both genera support a hypothesis of area relationships that is similar to that proposed by Prum [XIX International Ornithological Congress (1988), 2562] for high-vagility species, but while they agree on the relative timing of area divergence (vicariance) events, they yield different absolute time estimates for those divergences when the typical avian mtDNA clock calibration is used. Taken at face value, the time estimates indicate that both genera began to diversify before the start of the Pleistocene, and that climatic and habitat shifts alone do not account for the diversification of these taxa.

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