A comprehensive multilocus phylogeny for the wood-warblers and a revised classification of the Parulidae (Aves).
The birds in the family Parulidae-commonly termed the New World warblers or wood-warblers-are a classic model radiation for studies of ecological and behavioral differentiation. Although the monophyly of a 'core' wood-warbler clade is well established, no phylogenetic hypothesis for this group has included a full sampling of wood-warbler species diversity. We used parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian methods to reconstruct relationships among all genera and nearly all wood-warbler species, based on a matrix of mitochondrial DNA (5840 nucleotides) and nuclear DNA (6 loci, 4602 nucleotides) characters. The resulting phylogenetic hypotheses provide a highly congruent picture of wood-warbler relationships, and indicate that the traditional generic classification of these birds recognizes many non-monophyletic groups. We recommend a revised taxonomy in which each of 14 genera (Seiurus, Helmitheros, Mniotilta, Limnothlypis, Protonotaria, Parkesia, Vermivora, Oreothlypis, Geothlypis, Setophaga, Myioborus, Cardellina, Basileuterus, Myiothlypis) corresponds to a well-supported clade; these nomenclatural changes also involve subsuming a number of well-known, traditional wood-warbler genera (Catharopeza, Dendroica, Ergaticus, Euthlypis, Leucopeza, Oporornis, Parula, Phaeothlypis, Wilsonia). We provide a summary phylogenetic hypothesis that will be broadly applicable to investigations of the historical biogeography, processes of diversification, and evolution of trait variation in this well studied avian group.