Phylogenetics, Phylogeography and the Evolutionary History of the Chestnut-Shouldered Group of Fairy-Wrens (Malurus spp.)
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The chestnut-shouldered fairy-wrens comprise a subgroup of four species in the genus Malurus (Passeriformes: Maluridae). Collectively, they are widespread across the Australian continent but phenotypic variation is strongly structured geographically in just one species, M. lamberti. Earlier phylogenetic analyses of this group have been limited to one or two individuals for each species and have not represented all currently recognized subspecies of M. lamberti. Historically, the taxonomy and nomenclature of the M. lamberti complex has been debated, in part because of morphological similarities among its subspecies and another member of the group, M. amabilis. In the first data chapter of this thesis, I reconstructed the phylogeny of all four species of chestnut-shouldered fairy-wrens including all four subspecies of M. lamberti using a mitochondrial gene (ND2), five anonymous nuclear loci and three nuclear introns. Phylogenetic analysis of the mitochondrial ND2 gene nests M. amabilis within M. lamberti rendering the latter paraphyletic. Individual nuclear gene trees failed to reliably resolve each of the species boundaries or the phylogenetic relationships found in the mtDNA tree. When combined, a strongly supported overall topology was resolved supporting the monophyly of M. lamberti and its sister species relationships to M. amabilis. Current subspecies taxonomy of M. lamberti was not concordant with all evolutionary lineages of M. lamberti, nominotypical M. l. lamberti being the only subspecies recovered as a monophyletic group from mtDNA.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Griffith School of Environment
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Malurus (Passeriformes: Maluridae)