New Tanager Phylogeny Paper and New NSF Grant

We recently published a multilocus, species-level tree for tanagers in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. This paper represent the culmination of many years of work and will appear in the June issue, although it is currently available online in its final form. Please email, if you would like a pdf. Tanagers are the second largest family of birds and represent about 4% of all species. Species vary in plumage colors and patterns, foraging behaviors, vocalizations, ecotypes, and habitat preferences. This phylogeny provides the necessary framework we will be using to study the evolution of these diverse characters. In addition to the phylogeny, this paper also provides an analysis of diversification rates in tanagers and shows that the evolution of tanagers began with an initial burst of diversification, followed by a rate slowdown. In addition, we show that rates of diversification in two groups of tanagers, the Darwin’s Finches and Sporophila seedeaters, are exceptionally high even when compared to the overall rapid diversification in tanagers.  Our new phylogeny requires a new classification, including many new generic names. Thus, we are also working on a companion manuscript that provides a new classification for tanagers.

We have just scratched the surface of what we can learn about evolution using this group, thus I’m happy to say we just received a new NSF grant to continue working on tanagers!

Tanager Phylogeny

Tanager phylogeny, showing 15 subfamilies of tanagers that we designated in this paper.

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