Species trees for the tree swallows (Genus Tachycineta): An alternative phylogenetic hypothesis to the mitochondrial gene tree

Roi Dor, Matthew D. Carling, Irby J. Lovette, Frederick H. Sheldon, David W. Winkler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The New World swallow genus Tachycineta comprises nine species that collectively have a wide geographic distribution and remarkable variation both within- and among-species in ecologically important traits. Existing phylogenetic hypotheses for Tachycineta are based on mitochondrial DNA sequences, thus they provide estimates of a single gene tree. In this study we sequenced multiple individuals from each species at 16 nuclear intron loci. We used gene concatenated approaches (Bayesian and maximum likelihood) as well as coalescent-based species tree inference to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships of the genus. We examined the concordance and conflict between the nuclear and mitochondrial trees and between concatenated and coalescent-based inferences. Our results provide an alternative phylogenetic hypothesis to the existing mitochondrial DNA estimate of phylogeny. This new hypothesis provides a more accurate framework in which to explore trait evolution and examine the evolution of the mitochondrial genome in this group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-322
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Genetic samples were kindly provided by: American Museum of Natural History, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science, and through a gift from A.K. Townsend (Cornell University, USA). For laboratory assistance we thank Amanda Talaba and Laura Stenzler and two anonymous reviewers for their comments. Part of this work was carried out using the resources of the Computational Biology Service Unit at Cornell University that is partially funded by the Microsoft Corporation. This research was supported by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and NSF Grant OISE-0730180 to DWW.


  • BEST
  • Bayesian
  • Multi-locus
  • Nuclear
  • Phylogeny


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