Proposal (481) to South American Classification Committee

 

Change the linear sequence of the furnarioid families

 

[Note from Remsen: this proposal passed the North American Classification Committee (11 to 0) and is posted here with the permission of the author, with a couple of minor modifications by Remsen to tailor it for SACC area]:

 

 

The current sequence of furnarioid families in the SACC classification is:

 

Furnariidae

Sclerurinae

Furnariinae

Dendrocolaptinae

Thamnophilidae

Formicariidae

Grallariidae

Conopophagidae

Rhinocryptidae

Melanopareiidae

 

This sequence, although modified to reflect the recent division of the antbirds into three families (Thamnophilidae, Formicariidae, and Grallariidae), is in other respects a holdover from the pre-genetic era of systematics.  Sibley and Ahlquist (1990), for example, found that the typical antbirds were not closely related to the ground antbirds, but instead were sister to the rest of the furnarioid families.  Although separation of the thamnophilids is now reflected in the AOU classification, the position of the Thamnophilidae as sister to the other furnarioids is not.  In part this is because relationships among the furnarioid groups have been difficult to resolve.  For example, a study of suboscine relationships based on DNA sequence data (Chesser 2004) found that the Thamnophilidae and Conopophagidae were sisters and that this clade, rather than the Thamnophilidae alone, was sister to the rest of the furnarioids.  In fact, none of the relationships within furnarioids found by Sibley and Ahlquist (1990) were recovered in this sequencing study.  Nevertheless, particular findings, such as the distinctiveness of the Thamnophilidae relative to the Furnariidae, Formicariidae, Grallariidae, and Rhinocryptidae, have been common to these and most other recent studies of furnarioid relationships (e.g., Irestedt et al. 2002).

 

The most comprehensive genetic study of furnarioids to date (Moyle et al. 2009) indicated that the following sequence best reflects their evolutionary relationships:

 

Thamnophilidae

Melanopareiidae

Conopophagidae

Grallariidae

Rhinocryptidae

Formicariidae

Scleruridae

Dendrocolaptidae

Furnariidae

 

Support for the clade containing the final six families is very high (1.00 posterior prob., 95% ML bootstrap, 93% MP bootstrap).  There is relatively weak support within this clade for a sister relationship between the Grallariidae and Rhinocryptidae (0.93/75/68), but somewhat stronger support for the sister relationship between the Formicariidae and Scleruridae/ Dendrocolaptidae/ Furnariidae (1.00/84/77).  The relationships among the Thamnophilidae, the Conopophagidae, and the extralimital Melanopareiidae are largely unresolved, but these families are clearly positioned outside of the six-family clade mentioned above.  The best ML tree indicates that the Thamnophilidae is sister to the remaining furnarioids (as in Sibley and Ahlquist 1990) and that the Melanopareiidae and Conopophagidae are successive sisters to the clade consisting of the final six families listed above (Grallariidae through Furnariidae).

 

I recommend that we adopt the sequence of Moyle et al (2009) while maintaining our current family and subfamily rankings.  Support for the phylogenetic tree that underpins this linear sequence is not uniformly strong, but the sequence of families should be relatively robust and is the best information currently available and likely to be available in the near future.  Adoption of this proposal would result in the following linear sequence:

 

Thamnophilidae

Melanopareiidae

Conopophagidae

Grallariidae

Rhinocryptidae

Formicariidae

Furnariidae

Sclerurinae

Dendrocolaptinae

Furnariinae

 

If there is support in the committee for elevating the furnariid sub-families to family rank (as in Moyle et al. 2009), this could also be entertained.

 

References

 

Chesser, R. T. 2004. Molecular systematics of New World suboscine birds. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32: 11-24.

Irestedt, M., J. FjeldsĆ, U. S. Johansson, and P. G. P. Ericson.  2002.  Systematic relations and biogeography of the tracheophone suboscines (Aves: Passeriformes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 23: 499-512.

Moyle, R. G., R. T. Chesser, R. T. Brumfield, J. G. Tello, D. J. Marchese, and J. Cracraft. 2009. Phylogeny and phylogenetic classification of the antbirds, ovenbirds, woodcreepers, and allies (Aves: Passeriformes: Furnariides). Cladistics 25: 386-405.

Sibley, C. G., and J. E. Ahlquist. 1990. Phylogeny and Classification of Birds. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, CT.

 

 

Terry Chesser, 12 May 2011

 

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Comments from Stiles:  “YES, seems to be the most reasonable approach; perhaps from conservatism, I prefer to recognize three subfamilies of Furnariidae rather than splitting them into three families.”

 

Comments from Robbins: “YES.  I have no strong feelings one way or the other regarding subfamily vs. family for the sclerurids, dendrocolaptids, and furnariids.”

 

Comments from Nores:  “YES. This seems to be a reasonable approach, and I agree with Moyle et al. to recognize three families:  Furnariidae, Scleruridae, and Dendrocolaptidae instead of subfamilies, especially because I see Dendrocolaptidae as quite different from Furnariidae.

 

Comments from Cadena:  YES. I agree with the proposed linear sequence and for the sake of stability I would prefer to retain subfamily rank for the three clades of Furnariidae. As with proposal 480, I find it curious that NACC has decided on this issue before SACC considering that the vast majority of the taxa involved are South American.”

 

Comments from Pacheco:  “YES.  Pessoalmente, considero um pouco mais informativo tratar os vários grupos de Furnariídos no ranking de família.”

 

Comments from Zimmer: “YES.  The proposed sequence is one that makes sense based on recent analyses, while retaining the subfamily status of the various furnariid groups, which I would also favor.”

 

Comments from Pérez-Emán:  “YES. Current evidence supports the proposed linear sequence. I would rather keep current subfamily ranks instead of three separate families within Furnariidae as such decision deserves comparative analyses of different types of evidence, not only within Furnariidae but also among Furnariides.”

 

Comments from Remsen:  “YES, with the exception that there is no reason to flip-flop current sequence by placing Dendrocolaptinae in front of Furnariinae -- they are sister taxa.”