Songbirds of the Americas show uniform morphological evolution despite heterogeneous diversification

Tyler S. Imfeld, F. Keith Barker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Studying the relationship between diversification and functional trait evolution among broadly co-occurring clades can shed light on interactions between ecology and evolutionary history. However, evidence from many studies is compromised because of their focus on overly broad geographic or narrow phylogenetic scales. We addressed these limitations by studying 46 independent, biogeographically delimited clades of songbirds that dispersed from the Eastern Hemisphere into the Americas and assessed (1) whether diversification has varied through time and/or among clades within this assemblage, (2) the extent of heterogeneity in clade-specific morphological trait disparity and (3) whether morphological disparity among these clades is consistent with a uniform diversification model. We found equivalent support for constant rates birth–death and density-dependent speciation processes, with notable outliers having significantly fewer or more species than expected given their age. We also found substantial variation in morphological disparity among these clades, but that variation was broadly consistent with uniform evolutionary rates, despite the existence of diversification outliers. These findings indicate relatively continuous, ongoing morphological diversification, arguing against conceptual models of adaptive radiation in these continental clades. Additionally, they suggest surprisingly consistent diversification among the majority of these clades, despite tremendous variance in colonization history, habitat valences and trophic specializations that exist among continental clades of birds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1335-1351
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of evolutionary biology
Volume35
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study would not have been possible without natural history collections and the people who make this research infrastructure accessible. We especially thank the curators and collection managers at the Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota (MMNH), the Field Museum of Natural History (FMNH), the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Sciences (LSUMZ). All specimens measured in this study were collected under permits to corresponding institutions. This research was funded by a Florence Rothman Grant from the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences, a Richard & Judie Huempfner Grant from the MMNH, a Collection Study Grant from the AMNH, and a grant from the National Science Foundation (DEB‐1541312). We also give special thanks to Sharon Jansa, Kieran McNulty, Sushma Reddy, Dakota Rowsey, Shanta Hejmadi, Brie Ilarde and three anonymous reviewers whose feedback improved this work substantially.

Funding Information:
This study would not have been possible without natural history collections and the people who make this research infrastructure accessible. We especially thank the curators and collection managers at the Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota (MMNH), the Field Museum of Natural History (FMNH), the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Sciences (LSUMZ). All specimens measured in this study were collected under permits to corresponding institutions. This research was funded by a Florence Rothman Grant from the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences, a Richard & Judie Huempfner Grant from the MMNH, a Collection Study Grant from the AMNH, and a grant from the National Science Foundation (DEB-1541312). We also give special thanks to Sharon Jansa, Kieran McNulty, Sushma Reddy, Dakota Rowsey, Shanta Hejmadi, Brie Ilarde and three anonymous reviewers whose feedback improved this work substantially.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 European Society for Evolutionary Biology.

Keywords

  • birds
  • comparative studies
  • morphometrics

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