We provide a molecular phylogeny for Old World swifts of genera Apus and Tachymarptis (tribe Apodini) based on a taxon-complete sampling at the species level. Phylogenetic reconstructions were based on two mitochondrial (cytochrome b, 12S rRNA) and three nuclear markers (introns of fibrinogen and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase plus anonymous marker 12884) while the myoglobin intron 2 did not show any intergeneric variation or phylogenetic signal among the target taxa at all. In contrast to previous hypotheses, the two genera Apus and Tachymarptis were shown as reciprocally monophyletic in all reconstructions. Apus was consistently divided into three major clades: (1) East Asian clade of A. pacificus and A. acuticauda, (2) African-Asian clade of A. caffer, A. batesi, A. horus, A. affinis and A. nipalensis, (3) African-Palearctic clade of eight currently accepted species among which sequences of A. apus and A. pallidus clustered in a terminal crown clade. Phylogenetic signal of all four nuclear markers was extremely shallow within and among species of tribe Apodini and even among genera, such that intra- and intergeneric relationships of Apus, Tachymarptis and Cypsiurus were poorly resolved by nuclear data alone. Four species, A. pacificus, A. barbatus, A. affinis and A. caffer were consistently found to be paraphyletic with respect to their closest relatives and possible taxonomic consequences are discussed without giving particular recommendations due to limitations of sampling. Incomplete mitochondrial lineage sorting with cytochrome- b haplotypes shared among species and across large geographic distances was observed in two species pairs: A. affinis/. A. nipalensis and A. apus/. A. pallidus. Mitochondrial introgression caused by extant or past gene flow was ruled out as an explanation for the low interspecific differentiation in these two cases because all nuclear markers appeared to be highly unsorted among Apus species, too. Apparently, the two extant species pairs originated from very recent dispersal and/or speciation events. The currently accepted superspecies classification within Apus was not supported by our results. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
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