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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2018 Aug;125:127-137. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2018.03.013. Epub 2018 Mar 11.

Comprehensive molecular phylogeny of barn owls and relatives (Family: Tytonidae), and their six major Pleistocene radiations.

Author information

1
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland. Electronic address: vera.uva@unil.ch.
2
Senckenberg Natural History Collections, Königsbrücker, Landstraße 159, 01109 Dresden, Germany. Electronic address: martin.paeckert@senckenberg.de.
3
Museum of Natural History of Geneva, Route de Managnou 1, 1208 Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address: alice.cibois@ville-ge.ch.
4
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland; Unité de Génétique Forensique, Centre Universitaire Romand de Médecine Légale, Rue du Bugnon 21, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland. Electronic address: luca.fumagalli@unil.ch.
5
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland. Electronic address: alexandre.roulin@unil.ch.

Abstract

The owl family Tytonidae comprises two genera: Phodilus, limited to the forests of central Africa and South-East Asia, and the ubiquitous Tyto. The genus Tyto is majorly represented by the cosmopolitan Common Barn Owl group, with more than 30 subspecies worldwide. Discrete differences in body size and plumage colouration have led to the classification of this family into many species and subspecies, but the taxonomic status and phylogenetic relationships between taxa remain unclear, and in some groups controversial. Although several previous studies attempted to resolve this problem, they have been limited in their taxonomic and geographical coverage, or have relied on restricted molecular evidence and low sample sizes. Based on the most comprehensive sampling to date (16 out of 17 Tyto species, and one out of three Phodilus species), a multi-locus approach using seven mitochondrial and two nuclear markers, and taking advantage of field data and museum collections available worldwide, our main questions in this study were: (1) what are the phylogenetic relationships and classification status of the whole family; (2) when and where did the most important speciation events occur? We confirm that the Common Barn Owl, Tyto alba is divided into three main evolutionary units: the American Barn Owl, T. furcata; the Western Barn Owl, T. alba; and the Eastern Barn Owl, T. javanica, and suggest a Late Miocene (ca. 6 mya) Australasian and African origin of the group. Our results are supported by fossil age information, given that the most recent common ancestor between the Tytonidae genera Phodilus and Tyto was probably from the Oligocene (ca. 28 mya) of Australasia. We finally reveal six major Pleistocene radiations of Tyto, all resulting in wide-range distributions.

KEYWORDS:

Bird; Molecular phylogenetics; Strigiformes; Taxonomical classifications

PMID:
29535030
DOI:
10.1016/j.ympev.2018.03.013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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