A molecular phylogeny of New Zealand's Petroica (Aves: Petroicidae) species based on mitochondrial DNA sequences
The New Zealand robin (Petroica australis), tomtit (P. macrocephala), and Chatham Island black robin (P. traversi) are members of the Petroicidae family of Australo-Papuan robins, found throughout Australasia and the western Pacific. In the nearly 200 years since the New Zealand members of Petroicidae were first described, the division of species, subspecies, and even genera has undergone many changes. In this study, we investigate whether molecular phylogenies based on mitochondrial DNA sequences support current taxonomic classifications based on morphology. Petroica traversi, P. australis, and P. macrocephala form distinct clades in phylogenetic trees constructed from Cytochrome b and control region sequences, however the position of the black robin is at odds with the morphological and behavioral data. The black robin does not appear to be a derivative of the New Zealand robin, instead it groups strongly with the tomtit, indicating that lineage sorting and/or introgressive hybridization may have occurred. There is some evidence to support the hypothesis that two invasions of Petroica from Australia have occurred, however additional data from Australian Petroica taxa are required to confirm this. Control region sequences confirm a deep split between the North and South Island P. australis lineages, but suggest a recent radiation of P. macrocephala.
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution