Johansson US, Irestedt M, Qu Y, Ericson PGP
Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 126 (-) 17-22 [2018-09-00; online 2018-04-06]
The rollers (Coraciidae) constitute a relative small avian family with ca. 12 species distributed in Africa, western and southern Eurasia, and eastern Australia. In this study we examine the phylogenetic relationships of all species currently recognized in the family, including two taxa whose taxonomic status is currently contested. By using shotgun sequencing on degraded DNA from museum study skins we have been able to recover complete mitochondrial genomes as well as 15 nuclear genes for in total 16 taxa. The gene sequences were analyzed both concatenated in a maximum likelihood framework as well in a species tree approach using MP-EST. The different analytical approaches yield similar, highly supported trees and support the current division of the rollers into two genera, Coracias and Eurystomus. The only conflict relates to the placement of the Blue-bellied Roller (C. cyanogaster), where the mitochondrial, and the concatenated nuclear and mitochondrial data set, place this taxon as sister to the other Coracias species, whereas nuclear data and the species tree analysis place it as the sister taxon of C. naevia and C. spatulatus. All analyses place the Eurasian roller (C. garrulus) with the two African species, Abyssinian Roller (C. abyssinica) and Liliac-breasted Roller (C. caudatus), and place this clade as the sister group to the Asian Coracias rollers. In addition, our results support a sister group relationship between the morphologically rather dissimilar Purple Roller (C. naevia) and Racquet-tailed Roller (C. spatulatus) and also support the division of Eurystomus in an African and an Asian clade. However, within the Asian clade the Azure Roller (E. azureus) from Halmahera appears to be nested within the Dollarbird (E. orientalis), indicating that that this taxon is a morphological divergent, but a rather recent offshoot, of the widespread Dollarbird. Similarly, the Purple-winged Roller (C. temminickii) from Sulawesi group together with C. benghalensis affinis from Southeast Asia and these two in turn comprises the sister group to C. benghalensis benghalensis from India and western Asia.