The interspecific relationships among extant laughingthrushes have been unclear for a long time and this has resulted in a confusing taxonomic history. Recent advances in molecular methods have greatly improved the resolution of the phylogeny of birds; however, little works has been done on this specific group because of the inaccessibility to many species. This diverse group includes 50 species mostly distributed in South China and South-east Asia, and were traditionally arranged into the genus Garrulax, for which the non monophyly had been questioned by previous molecular studies. In this study, we infer a phylogeny for 23 Garrulax species and 20 species from close related genera. Mitochondrial data or combined with nuclear sequences both indicate paraphyly of Garrulax, dividing Garrulax species into two groups. Based on these results, we suggest resurrecting the genus name Trochalopteron Blyth, 1843 for one group and retaining Garrulax for the other pending further study. Using dating methods with a secondary calibration point, we develop a profile of the speciation history of laughingthrushes, which suggests that the Hengduan Mountains might not be the centre of origin for these birds as previously suggested.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Molecular Biology