Data from: Diversification and dispersal in the Americas revealed by new phylogenies of the wrens and allies (Passeriformes: Certhioidea)

  • Tyler Imfeld (Regis University) (Creator)
  • F. Keith Barker (Creator)
  • Hernan Vazquez-Miranda (Creator)
  • Jaime A. Chaves (Creator)
  • Patricia Escalante (Creator)
  • Garth M. Spellman (Creator)
  • John Klicka (Creator)



The passerine superfamily Certhioidea lacks a complete phylogeny despite decades of recognition as a clade and extensive systematic work within all its constituent families. Here, we inferred a near-complete species level phylogeny of Certhioidea from a molecular supermatrix, including the first comprehensive sampling of the wrens (Troglodytidae), and used this phylogeny to infer its biogeographic and diversification histories. We also inferred an expanded phylogeny including nearly 100 putative phylospecies previously documented in the literature, and we found that including this diversity had notable impacts on the inferred evolutionary history of Certhioidea. This phylospecies-level tree documented a few instances of species paraphyly, some previously described in the literature and some novel. We found that Certhioidea originated largely in Eurasia and dispersed into North America five times in the last 20 million years, including at the origin of the “New World certhioids”, wrens and gnatcatchers, a clade herein named Orthourae. After this initial dispersal event, both wrens and gnatcatchers diversified extensively across the hemisphere, with both lineages repeatedly crossing between continents. However, we detected no notable impact of the formation of the Isthmus of Panama on the frequency of dispersal events between North and South America. The inclusion of phylospecies altered this biogeographic inference in some portions of the tree but overall was largely consistent. With species-level sampling, we found that diversification rates within Certhioidea were largely constant through time with a detectable deceleration toward the present. By contrast, phylospecies-level sampling recovered a different diversification history with a significant rate increase at the crown node of Orthourae after dispersing into the Americas and increased speciation rates, particularly within the genera Polioptila and Henicorhina. This largely resolved phylogeny for Certhioidea has yielded important insights into the evolutionary history of this group and provides a framework for future comparative work on this fascinating clade.
Date made availableFeb 1 2024

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