Phylogeny of cooperatively breeding cuckoos (Cuculidae Crotophaginae) based on mitochondrial gene sequences

  • Hughes J
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The Crotophaginae is a subfamily of New World cuckoos comprising the monotypic genus Guira and three ani species (Crotophaga). All exhibit a rare form of cooperative breeding known as plural female joint-nesting. whereby two or more females lay eggs in a single nest. I reconstructed the phylogeny of Crotophaginae using the mitochondrial genes cytochrome oxidase 1, 11, and III. ATPase 6 and 8, and cytochrome b. The subfamily was monophyletic, implying a single origin of cooperative breeding in New World cuckoos. Crotophaga was also monophyletic with Guira as its sister taxon. Within Crotophaga, the smooth-billed (C. ani) and groove-billed (C. sulcirostris) anis formed the internal clade with the greater am (C. major) basal to this pair. This phylogeny is consistent with differences in reproductive patterns and social organization exhibited by crotophagine cuckoos, and will serve as a framework for future study of the evolution of cooperative breeding in this subfamily.

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  • Janice M. Hughes

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