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Phylogeny of the Falconidae Inferred from Molecular and Morphological Data

Carole S. Griffiths
The Auk
Vol. 116, No. 1 (Jan., 1999), pp. 116-130
DOI: 10.2307/4089459
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4089459
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Phylogeny of the Falconidae Inferred from Molecular and Morphological Data
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Abstract

Molecular data and variation in syringeal morphology were used to infer a phylogeny for the family Falconidae and to address three issues currently of interest in systematics: (1) the treatment of multiple data sets in phylogenetic analysis, (2) a priori analysis and differential weighting of molecular data, and (3) the reliability of molecular versus morphological data in phylogenetic analysis. Problems in recovering phylogenetic signal caused by rapidly changing sites in the molecular data were not solved by combining data sets. Differentially weighting saturated partitions of the sequence data, prior to phylogenetic analysis, provided a phylogeny congruent with morphological analysis. Molecular data provide substantially more informative characters than morphological data. However, morphological data provide a higher proportion of unreversed synapomorphies. A reclassification of the family based on the phylogeny results in two subfamilies: (1) the Herpetotherinae, (forest-falcons [Micrastur] and Laughing Falcon [Herpetotheres cachinnans]); and (2) the Falconinae, which includes the tribes Falconini (Spot-winged Falconet [Spiziapteryx circumcinctus], pygmy-falcons [Polihierax], falconets [Microhierax], and the genus Falco) and Caracarini (caracaras). The phylogeny also indicates that two genera, Daptrius and Polihierax, are polyphyletic, and these two are split. Finally, a biogeographic hypothesis derived from the phylogeny implies that the origin and early diversification of the family occurred in South America.

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