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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2018 Apr;121:121-131. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2017.12.025. Epub 2018 Jan 2.

Colonization and diversification of the white-browed shortwing (Aves: Muscicapidae: Brachypteryx montana) in the Philippines.

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Biology Department, Loyola University Chicago, 1050 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660, USA.
Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605, USA.
Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32607, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Marshall University, Huntington, WV 25755, USA; Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati, OH 45203, USA.
Biology Department, Loyola University Chicago, 1050 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660, USA. Electronic address:


Molecular phylogenetic approaches have greatly improved our knowledge of the pattern and process of biological diversification across the globe; however, many regions remain poorly documented, even for well-studied vertebrate taxa. The Philippine archipelago, one of the least-studied 'biodiversity hotspots', is an ideal natural laboratory for investigating the factors driving diversification in an insular and geologically dynamic setting. We investigated the history and geography of diversification of the Philippine populations of a widespread montane bird, the White-browed Shortwing (Brachypteryx montana). Leveraging dense archipelago-wide sampling, we generated a multi-locus genetic dataset (one nuclear and two mtDNA markers), which we analyzed using phylogenetic, population genetic, and coalescent-based methods. Our results demonstrate that Philippine shortwings (1) likely colonized the Philippines from the Sunda Shelf to Mindanao in the late Miocene or Pliocene, (2) diversified across inter-island barriers into three divergent lineages during the Pliocene and early Pleistocene, (3) have not diversified within the largest island, Luzon, contrary to patterns observed in other montane taxa, and (4) colonized Palawan from the oceanic Philippines rather than from Borneo, challenging the assumption of Palawan functioning exclusively as a biogeographic extension of the Sunda Shelf. Additionally, our finding that divergent (c. 4.0 mya) lineages are coexisting in secondary sympatry on Mindanao without apparent gene flow suggests that the speciation process is likely complete for these shortwing lineages. Overall, these investigations provide insight into how topography and island boundaries influence diversification within remote oceanic archipelagos and echo the results of many other studies in demonstrating that taxonomic diversity continues to be underestimated in the Philippines.


Coalescent methods; Island biogeography; Molecular dating; Secondary sympatry; Southeast Asia; Speciation

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