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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2006 Oct;41(1):118-26. Epub 2006 May 19.

Systematics of Ficedula flycatchers (Muscicapidae): a molecular reassessment of a taxonomic enigma.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Memphis, 3700 Walker Avenue, Memphis, TN 38152, USA.


Ficedula flycatchers are a group of species with disparate plumages and habits that have proven a challenge for taxonomists since the first description of the genus [Brisson, M.J., 1760. Ornithologia sive synopsis methodica sistens Avium divisionem in ordines. 2: ilxvii, 1-516]. The most recent evaluation was conducted by Vaurie (Vaurie, C., 1953. A generic revision of flycatchers of the tribe Muscicapini. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 100, 453-538), who used morphological and behavioral characters, as well as distributional data to consider relationships among Ficedula species, between ostensible "groupings" within the genus, and between Ficedula and its presumed sister genera. Since 1953, no study has sought to evaluate relationships among Ficedula species, and only five Palearctic species have been studied to any extent. Here, using three mitochondrial genes, we provide the first assessment of phylogenetic relationships among Ficedula species to include the consideration of presumed subgenera or "groupings," and between Ficedula and its putative sister genera. Our results suggest that Ficedula is not monophyletic; Ficedula solitaris was originally placed in the genus Anthipes, and our results suggest that both solitaris and its sister monileger should be placed in Anthipes, near Niltava. The remaining Ficedula species for which we had samples form a well-supported clade that includes Muscicapella (a monotypic genus of previously uncertain affinities). The genus Tarsiger is the sister genus to Ficedula.

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