Jønsson KA, Blom MPK, Marki PZ, Joseph L, Sangster G, Ericson PGP, Irestedt M
Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 137 (-) 200-209 [2019-08-00; online 2019-03-23]
Old World orioles (Oriolidae) are medium-sized passerine birds confined largely to forested areas of Africa, Eurasia and Australasia. We present a new complete molecular (mtDNA) subspecies level phylogeny of the Oriolidae including all 113 taxa (35 species) together with a backbone phylogeny of 19 taxa from the main Oriolus clades based on (i) 21 nuclear genes, (ii) whole mito-genomes, and (iii) genome-wide ultraconserved elements. We use this phylogeny to assess systematic relationships and the biogeographical history of this avian family. Furthermore, we use morphological measurements to investigate the relationship between size and shape axes and upstream or back-colonization of this extensive island region from Asia. We show that several subspecies or groups of subspecies may warrant species rank and we find a continental example of two morphologically distinct species (O. mellianus/O. traillii) being genetically (mtDNA) very similar. Biogeographically, we confirm previous findings that members of the Oriolidae originated in Australo-Papua. Dispersal out of this area took place around 15 Mya to southeast Asia and Africa, and from Africa to the Palearctic followed by recolonization of the Indonesian and Philippine island region during the Plio-Pleistocene. Recolonisation of the Indonesian and Philippine islands coincided with an increase in body size, which may have facilitated the ability to co-exist with other congenerics.