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A Molecular Phylogeny Of The New World Orioles (Icterus): The Importance Of Dense Taxon Sampling.

K. E. Omland, S. M. Lanyon, S. J. Fritz
Published 1999 · Biology, Medicine

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We sequenced 2005 bp of the mitochondrial ND2 and cytochrome b genes from the 25 recognized species of New World orioles (Icterus). Our data confirmed the monophyly of Icterus and produced a well-resolved phylogeny showing three main clades of orioles. We also sequenced multiple subspecies for most polytypic taxa. Our findings demonstrated the importance of dense taxon sampling below the species level in two ways. First, we found evidence that two species are polyphyletic, I. galbula (Northern oriole) and I. dominicensis (Black-cowled oriole). Choosing different subspecies from either of these taxa would lead to different species-level phylogenies. Second, adding subspecies even to monophyletic groups produced a bootstrap tree with significantly more support. Of the two genes that we used, ND2 provided more resolution than did cytochrome b. ND2 evolved up to 40% faster than cytochrome b, yet shows a higher saturation threshold. Our findings suggest that ND2 may be superior to cytochrome b for resolving species-level phylogenies in passerine birds.
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