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Mol Ecol. 2008 Mar;17(5):1328-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2007.03647.x.

The Great American Interchange in birds: a phylogenetic perspective with the genus Trogon.

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  • 1School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 454004, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154, USA.


The 'Great American Interchange' (GAI) is recognized as having had a dramatic effect on biodiversity throughout the Neotropics. However, investigation of patterns in Neotropical avian biodiversity has generally been focused on South American taxa in the Amazon Basin, leaving the contribution of Central American taxa under-studied. More rigorous studies of lineages distributed across the entire Neotropics are needed to uncover phylogeographical patterns throughout the area, offering insights into mechanisms that contribute to overall Neotropical biodiversity. Here we use mitochondrial DNA sequence data and intensive geographical sampling from the widespread Neotropical avian genus Trogon to investigate the role of the GAI in shaping its phylogeographical history. Our results show that genetic diversity in Trogon exceeds the perceived biodiversity, and that the GAI resulted in lineage diversification within the genus. Despite greater diversity in South America, a Central American centre of origin with multiple and independent dispersals into South America is indicated. These dispersals were followed by the evolution of divergent lineages associated with the Andes Mountains and other South American geographical features. According to our phylogenetic reconstructions, several species, which were originally defined by morphological characters, are nonmonophyletic. In sum, our results elucidate the evolutionary history of Trogon, reveal patterns obscured by extant biodiversity, and serve as a biogeographical model to consider in future studies.

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