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  • 1.
    Ericson, Per G P
    et al.
    Swedish Museum of Natural History, Research Division.
    Klopfstein, Seraina
    Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Bioinformatics and Genetics.
    Irestedt, Martin
    Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Bioinformatics and Genetics.
    Nguyen, Jacqueline MT
    Nylander, Johan A A
    Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Bioinformatics and Genetics.
    Dating the diversification of the major lineages of Passeriformes (Aves)2014In: BMC Evolutionary Biology, ISSN 1471-2148, E-ISSN 1471-2148, Vol. 14, no 8, p. 1-15Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: The avian Order Passeriformes is an enormously species-rich group, which comprises almost 60% ofall living bird species. This diverse order is believed to have originated before the break-up of Gondwana in the lateCretaceous. However, previous molecular dating studies have relied heavily on the geological split between NewZealand and Antarctica, assumed to have occurred 85–82 Mya, for calibrating the molecular clock and might thusbe circular in their argument.Results: This study provides a time-scale for the evolution of the major clades of passerines using seven nuclearmarkers, five taxonomically well-determined passerine fossils, and an updated interpretation of the New Zealandsplit from Antarctica 85–52 Mya in a Bayesian relaxed-clock approach. We also assess how different interpretationsof the New Zealand–Antarctica vicariance event influence our age estimates. Our results suggest that thediversification of Passeriformes began in the late Cretaceous or early Cenozoic. Removing the root calibration forthe New Zealand–Antarctica vicariance event (85–52 Mya) dramatically increases the 95% credibility intervals andleads to unrealistically old age estimates. We assess the individual characteristics of the seven nuclear genesanalyzed in our study. Our analyses provide estimates of divergence times for the major groups of passerines,which can be used as secondary calibration points in future molecular studies.Conclusions: Our analysis takes recent paleontological and geological findings into account and provides the bestestimate of the passerine evolutionary time-scale currently available. This time-scale provides a temporalframework for further biogeographical, ecological, and co-evolutionary studies of the largest bird radiation, andadds to the growing support for a Cretaceous origin of Passeriformes.

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