We use the small-bodied toucan genus Pteroglossus to test hypotheses about diversification in the lowland Neotropics. We sequenced three mitochondrial genes and one nuclear intron from all Pteroglossus species and used these data to reconstruct phylogenetic trees based on maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian analyses. These phylogenetic trees were used to make inferences regarding both the pattern and timing of diversification for the group. We used the uplift of the Talamanca highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama as a geologic calibration for estimating divergence times on the Pteroglossus tree and compared these results with a standard molecular clock calibration. Then, we used likelihood methods to model the rate of diversification. Based on our analyses, the onset of the Pteroglossus radiation predates the Pleistocene, which has been predicted to have played a pivotal role in diversification in the Amazon rainforest biota. We found a constant rate of diversification in Pteroglossus evolutionary history, and thus no support that events during the Pleistocene caused an increase in diversification. We compare our data to other avian phylogenies to better understand major biogeographic events in the Neotropics. These comparisons support recurring forest connections between the Amazonian and Atlantic forests, and the splitting of cis/trans Andean species after the final uplift of the Andes. At the subspecies level, there is evidence for reciprocal monophyly and groups are often separated by major rivers, demonstrating the important role of rivers in causing or maintaining divergence. Because some of the results presented here conflict with current taxonomy of Pteroglossus, new taxonomic arrangements are suggested. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
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