Biochemical Systematics within Palaeotropic Finches (Aves: Estrildidae)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1987
Authors:Christidis, L
Journal:The Auk
Date Published:1987
ISBN Number:00048038
Keywords:Aegintha, Aidemosyne, Emberizidae, Emblema, Estrildidae, Fringillidae, Neochmia, Ploceidae, Poephila, systematics
Abstract:Differentiation at 38 presumptive loci was examined among 30 species of palaeotropic finches (Estrildidae) by protein electrophoresis. Three species of Ploceidae, two of Fringillidae, and one of Emberizidae were included for comparison and the establishment of out-groups. Phenetic and cladistic analyses were employed, and both produced concordant patterns of relationships among the species. I conclude that all four families are closely related, with Estrildidae and Ploceidae grouped on one major sublineage and Fringillidae and Emberizidae on the other. Within the Estrildidae, three distinct radiations are identified, corresponding to the waxbill (Estrildae), mannikin (Lonchurae), and grassfinch (Poephilae) groupings in current classifications. Contrary to prevailing views, Aidemosyne is shown to be a member of Poephilae, not Lonchurae, and to be allied with Neochmia and Aegintha. Similarly, the relationships of Aegintha as currently presumed with the Estrildae are not consistent with the electrophoretic data. Overall, the data suggest a monophyletic origin for the Australasian Poephilae. Within this assemblage, however, Emblema and Poephila are clearly polyphyletic by current classifications. A major point of ambiguity in the data centers on the interconnections between the three major estrildid assemblages; at present, this can be treated only as an unresolved trichotomy.
Short Title:The Auk
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