Disentangling the evolutionary history and biogeography of hill partridges (Phasianidae, Arborophila) from low coverage shotgun sequences

De Chen, Yang Liu, Geoffrey Davison, Ding Li Yong, Shenghan Gao, Junhua Hu, Shou Hsien Li, Zhengwang Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The advent of the phylogenomic era has significantly improved our understanding of the evolutionary history and biogeography of Southeast Asia's diverse avian fauna. However, the taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships of many Southeast Asian birds remain poorly resolved, especially for those with large geographic ranges, which might have experienced both ancient and recent geological and environmental changes. In this study, we examined the evolutionary history and biogeography of the hill partridges (Galliformes: Phasianidae: Arborophila spp.), currently the second most speciose galliform genus, and thought to have colonized Southeast Asia from Africa. We present a well‐resolved phylogeny of 14 Arborophila species inferred from ultra-conserved elements, exons, and mitochondrial genomes from both fresh and museum samples, which representing almost complete coverage of the genus. Our fossil-calibrated divergence time estimates and biogeographic modeling showed the ancestor of Arborophila arrived in Indochina during the early Miocene, but the initial divergence within Arborophila did not occur until ~10 Ma when global cooling intensified. Subsequent dispersal and diversification within Arborophila were driven by several tectonic and climatic events. In particular, we found evidence of rapid radiation in Indochinese Arborophila during the Pliocene global cooling and extensive dispersal and speciation of Sundaic Arborophila during the Pleistocene sea-level fluctuations. Taken together, these results suggest that the evolutionary history and biogeography of Arborophila were influenced by complex interactions among historical, geological and climatic events in Southeast Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106895
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct


  • Diversification
  • Galliformes
  • Global cooling
  • Historical biogeography
  • Museum specimen
  • Southeast Asia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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