Evolution of arid zone birds in Australia: Leapfrog distribution patterns and mesic-arid connections in quail-thrush (Cinclosoma, Cinclosomatidae)
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The quail-thrush, Cinclosoma, include between five and seven species distributed broadly across arid and semi-arid inland Australia, mesic forests of south-eastern Australia and New Guinea. It has been suggested that the arid zone species of quail-thrush arose from forest ancestors as Australia changed from a warm wet climate to a cooler drier climate since the late-Miocene. We generated multilocus (mitochondrial ND2 and eight nuclear loci) gene and species trees with complete taxon sampling of Cinclosoma to investigate evolutionary relationships and species status of some taxa. Topologies reconstructed in congruent, highly-resolved gene trees and species trees that supported the recognition of seven species. Ancestral state reconstruction and divergence time estimates suggest that arid-adapted taxa radiated in parallel with a drying climate and changing habitat. A 'leapfrog' distribution in phenotypes of arid zone taxa was likely a result of ancestral retention of inconspicuous (or camouflaged) plumage patterns. A specimen-based report from 1968 of hybridization between non-sister taxa Cinclosoma castanotum and Cinclosoma marginatum was verified using molecular analysis on specimens collected at the same locality 40 years later. We discuss the implications of hybridization to the evolution of this species group.
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Ecological Applications not elsewhere classified