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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2009 May;51(2):169-81. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2008.10.022. Epub 2008 Nov 6.

Molecular phylogeny of Carduelinae (Aves, Passeriformes, Fringillidae) proves polyphyletic origin of the genera Serinus and Carduelis and suggests redefined generic limits.

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UMR 5202 Origine, Structure et Evolution de la Biodiversité, Département Systématique et Evolution, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France.


Relationships of the 133 species of the subfamily Carduelinae (Fringillidae) are poorly resolved. For a more robust phylogenetic resolution, we sequenced two mitochondrial protein-coding genes (ATPase 6 and ND3), two nuclear introns (myoglobin intron 2 and transforming growth factor-beta2 intron 5) and one nuclear protein-coding gene (c-mos) from 50 cardueline taxa representing especially the large genera Serinus and Carduelis. A total of 2934bp obtained was subjected to maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference. Three of the five loci, as well as the combined dataset recovered the monophyly of the basal placement of Fringilla in the monophyletic Fringillidae, and the monophyly of the Carduelinae. While relationships within this group are moderately resolved by some individual gene trees (myoglobin and c-mos loci), high nodal support is provided in other individual gene trees and the combined tree. Among the well resolved terminal cardueline groups, Linurgus, Loxia and Pyrrhula are found to be monophyletic while genera Carpodacus, Carduelis and Serinus appear para- or polyphyletic. Within Serinus and Carduelis, the obtained phylogenetic structure corresponds well with the subdivisions suggested by H.E. Wolters, based on traditional methods. Thus, we support his generic subdivision (Ochrospiza, Dendrospiza and Crithagra for Serinus, and Chloris, Spinus, Sporagra, Pseudomitris, Acanthis and Linaria for Carduelis). Otherwise, we notice several cases of significant genetic divergence within traditional species suggesting incipient speciation in Linurgus olivaceus, Loxia curvirostra, Serinus mozambicus and Serinus burtoni. Some of these cases need a further phylogeographical study with a denser geographical sampling but for the case the most noteworthy, that of Serinus burtoni, we suggest a taxonomic change in this study.

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