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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2009 Dec;53(3):703-15. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2009.07.020. Epub 2009 Jul 25.

Patterns and processes of diversification in a widespread and ecologically diverse avian group, the buteonine hawks (Aves, Accipitridae).

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Departamento de Genética e Biologia Evolutiva, Universidade de São Paulo, Rua do Matão, 277, Cidade Universitária, São Paulo, SP 05508-090, Brazil.


Buteonine hawks represent one of the most diverse groups in the Accipitridae, with 58 species distributed in a variety of habitats on almost all continents. Variations in migratory behavior, remarkable dispersal capability, and unusual diversity in Central and South America make buteonine hawks an excellent model for studies in avian evolution. To evaluate the history of their global radiation, we used an integrative approach that coupled estimation of the phylogeny using a large sequence database (based on 6411 bp of mitochondrial markers and one nuclear intron from 54 species), divergence time estimates, and ancestral state reconstructions. Our findings suggest that Neotropical buteonines resulted from a long evolutionary process that began in the Miocene and extended to the Pleistocene. Colonization of the Nearctic, and eventually the Old World, occurred from South America, promoted by the evolution of seasonal movements and development of land bridges. Migratory behavior evolved several times and may have contributed not only to colonization of the Holarctic, but also derivation of insular species. In the Neotropics, diversification of the buteonines included four disjunction events across the Andes. Adaptation of monophyletic taxa to wet environments occurred more than once, and some relationships indicate an evolutionary connection among mangroves, coastal and várzea environments. On the other hand, groups occupying the same biome, forest, or open vegetation habitats are not monophyletic. Refuges or sea-level changes or a combination of both was responsible for recent speciation in Amazonian taxa. In view of the lack of concordance between phylogeny and classification, we propose numerous taxonomic changes.

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