New paper on the phylogeny of Sporophila seedeaters

Mason, N. A. and K. J. Burns. 2013. Molecular phylogenetics of the Neotropical Seedeaters and Seed-finches (Sporophila, Oryzoborus, Dolospingus). Ornitología Neotropical 24: 139-155. pdf

We recently published a paper in Ornitología Neotropical reporting on the phylogeny of seedeaters. Seedeaters are a type of tanager even though they have conical-shaped bills like finches. This group includes members of the genus Sporophila, Oryzoborus, and Dolospingus. This paper resulted from a side project of Nick Mason’s MS thesis and represents part of the lab’s larger body of work on tanager phylogenetics and diversification. We were able to include 33 of the 39 currently recognized species of Sporophila and found that the genus Sporophila is not monophyletic. Thus, we recommend merging all the species in Oryzoborus and Dolospingus into Sporophila. We also showed that previous groupings based on male plumage do not represent monophyletic groups, thus there is lots of convergence in plumage patterns and colors within the group.

Update: this article has been picked as an Editor’s Choice.


Two of the 39 species of Sporophila. Ruddy-breasted Seedeater (Sporophila minuta) on the left, Black-and-white Seedeater (Sporophila luctuosa) on the right. Photos courtesy of Lee Calvert.

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