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Genetic Relationships of North American Cardueline Finches

Jill A. Marten and Ned K. Johnson
The Condor
Vol. 88, No. 4 (Nov., 1986), pp. 409-420
DOI: 10.2307/1368266
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1368266
Page Count: 12
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Genetic Relationships of North American Cardueline Finches
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Abstract

Starch gel electrophoresis was used to examine variation at 33 genetic loci in 19 taxa (15 species in 6 genera) of cardueline finches (family Fringillidae). Levels of heterozygosity and genetic distances were comparable to those reported from surveys of other avian taxa. Twenty-three loci (70%) were polymorphic within taxa and/or were fixed at alternative alleles among taxa. Rogers' genetic distances were used to construct phenograms, distance Wagner trees, and F-M trees; these provided hypotheses for the evolutionary relationships of taxa. The genetic data indicate that: (1) Coccothraustes, Pinicola, Leucosticte, Carpodacus, Carduelis, and Loxia are distinctive genera that vary in estimated age (as measured from nearest branch point) from approximately 14 MY (Coccothraustes) to 5 MY (Loxia); (2) species treated by the AOU (1983) as congeners within Carpodacus, Carduelis, and Loxia are correctly classified to genus; (3) the subgenera Acanthis, Astragalinus, Spinus, and Carduelis, within the genus Carduelis, are recognizable; (4) the crossbills (Loxia) are most closely allied to Carduelis among the genera examined; (5) Carpodacus purpureus and C. cassinii are closely related sister species whereas C. mexicanus is very distinct; (6) Loxia curvirostra and L. leucoptera are moderately different electrophoretically; (7) in contrast, the red-polls, Carduelis flammea and C. hornemanni exilipes, are similar genetically; (8) most speciation events in North American carduelines range from mid-late Pliocene (4 MY) to mid-Pleistocene (500,000 years) in age; but (9) subspecies diverged in the late Pleistocene. A phylogeny of cardueline genera derived from these electrophoretic data agrees in major respects with one proposed by Raikow on the basis of hindlimb myology. The sequence of appearance of older taxa is still not resolved with certainty, however, because of partially conflicting molecular and morphologic results.

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