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Comprehensive phylogeny of birds (Aves) using DNA



Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com


New in Nature:

Richard O. Prum, Jacob S. Berv, Alex Dornburg, Daniel J. Field,
Jeffrey P. Townsend, Emily Moriarty Lemmon & Alan R. Lemmon (2015)
A comprehensive phylogeny of birds (Aves) using targeted
next-generation DNA sequencing.
Nature (advance online publication)
doi:10.1038/nature15697
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature15697.html

Although reconstruction of the phylogeny of living birds has
progressed tremendously in the last decade, the evolutionary history
of Neoaves—a clade that encompasses nearly all living bird
species—remains the greatest unresolved challenge in dinosaur
systematics. Here we investigate avian phylogeny with an unprecedented
scale of data: >390,000 bases of genomic sequence data from each of
198 species of living birds, representing all major avian lineages,
and two crocodilian outgroups. Sequence data were collected using
anchored hybrid enrichment, yielding 259 nuclear loci with an average
length of 1,523 bases for a total data set of over 7.8 × 107 bases.
Bayesian and maximum likelihood analyses yielded highly supported and
nearly identical phylogenetic trees for all major avian lineages. Five
major clades form successive sister groups to the rest of Neoaves: (1)
a clade including nightjars, other caprimulgiforms, swifts, and
hummingbirds; (2) a clade uniting cuckoos, bustards, and turacos with
pigeons, mesites, and sandgrouse; (3) cranes and their relatives; (4)
a comprehensive waterbird clade, including all diving, wading, and
shorebirds; and (5) a comprehensive landbird clade with the enigmatic
hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) as the sister group to the rest. Neither
of the two main, recently proposed Neoavian clades—Columbea and
Passerea—were supported as monophyletic. The results of our divergence
time analyses are congruent with the palaeontological record,
supporting a major radiation of crown birds in the wake of the
Cretaceous–Palaeogene (K–Pg) mass extinction.

==

Gavin H. Thomas (2015)
Evolution: An avian explosion
Nature (advance online publication)
doi:10.1038/nature15638
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature15638.html

The genome sequences of 198 bird species provide an unprecedented
combination of breadth and depth of data, and allow the most robust
resolution so far of the early evolutionary relationships of modern
birds.
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