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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2002 Aug;24(2):203-15.

Phylogeny of Tetraoninae and other galliform birds using mitochondrial 12S and ND2 genes.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 1109 Geddes Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079, USA.


The avian subfamily Tetraoninae (grouse and ptarmigan) is a Holarctic group in the order Galliformes distinguished by morphological adaptations to cold environments and behavioral traits associated with elaborate courtship. Here we investigate the relationships of 17 tetraonines and 12 other galliform species using mitochondrial 12S and ND2 sequence data. We found support for the recent phylogenetic classification that separates the genus Dendragapus into two genera, Falcipennis and Dendragapus. In addition, we found support for a tetraonine clade in which the first divergence is between Bonasa umbellus and all others, followed by divergence between a Bonasa bonasia/Bonasa sewerzowi clade and the remaining tetraonines. Falcipennis canadensis is sister to a clade with four Tetrao species, and the genus Centrocercus is sister to a Dendragapus obscurus/Tympanuchus clade. Our data indicate a basal position for Cracidae and Megapodiidae among the five recognized galliform families. We also found strong support for the monophyly of Phasianidae, although the relative positions of Numididae and Odontiphoridae remains unresolved. We use a maximum likelihood approach to infer ages of 37mya for divergence of Numididae and Phasianidae and 28mya for the divergence of Tetraoninae and Meleagris gallopavo. These estimates must be viewed as tentative as they depend on tests of rates of molecular evolution and accurate fossil dates.

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