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in press

Alström, P., Olsson, U., Rasmussen, P.C., Yao, C.-T., Ericson, P.G.P. & Sundberg, P. Morphological, vocal and genetic divergence in the Cettia achanthizoides complex (Aves: Cettiidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. [Abstract]

Ekman, J. & Ericson, P.G.P. Out of Gondwanaland; the evolutionary history of cooperative breeding and social behaviour among crows, magpies, jays and allies. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. [Abstract]

Ewen, J.G., Flux, I. & Ericson, P.G.P. Systematic affinities of two enigmatic New Zealand passerines of high conservation priority, the hihi or stitchbird Notiomystis cincta and the kokako Callaeas cinerea. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

Fuchs, J., Ohlson, J.I., Ericson, P.G.P. & Pasquet, E. Molecular phylogeny and biogeographic history of the piculets (Piciformes: Picumninae). Journal of Avian Biology. [Abstract]

Irestedt, M., Fjeldså, J. & Ericson, P.G.P. Evolution of the ovenbird-woodcreeper assemblage (Aves: Furnariidae) - major shifts in nest architecture and adaptive radiation. Journal of Avian Biology. [Abstract]

2006

Alström, P., Ericson, P.G.P., Olsson, U. & Sundberg, P. Phylogeny and classification of the avian superfamily Sylvioidea, based on nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 38, pp. 381-397. [Abstract] [reprint]

2005

Ericson, P.G.P., Jansén, A.-L., Johansson, U.S. & Ekman, J. Inter-generic relationships of the crows, jays, magpies and allied groups (Aves: Corvidae) based on nucleotide sequence data. Journal of Avian Biology, 36, pp. 222-234. [Abstract] [reprint]

Fjeldså, J., Irestedt, M. & Ericson, P.G.P. Molecular data reveal some major adaptational shifts in the early evolution of the most diverse avian family, the Furnariidae. Journal of Ornithology, 146, pp. 1-13.[Abstract] [reprint]

Johansson, U.S. & Ericson, P.G.P. A re-evaluation of basal phylogenetic relationships within trogons (Aves: Trogonidae) based on nuclear DNA sequences. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 43, pp.166-173. [Abstract] [reprint]

Olson, S.L., Irestedt, M., Ericson, P.G.P. & Fjeldså, J. Independent evolution of two Darwinian marsh-dwelling ovenbirds (Furnariidae: Limnornis, Limnoctites). Ornitologia Neotropical, 16, pp. 347-359. [Abstract] [reprint]

Olsson, U., Alström, P., Ericson, P.G.P. & Sundberg, P. Non-monophyletic taxa and cryptic species - evidence from a molecular phylogeny of leaf-warblers (Phylloscopus, Aves). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 36, pp. 261-276. [Abstract] [reprint]

Qu, Y.H., Ericson, P.G.P., Lei, F.M. & Li, S. H. Post-glacial colonization of the Tibetan plateau inferred from the matrilineal genetic structure of the endemic red-necked snow finch, Pyrgilauda ruficollis. Molecular Ecology, 14, pp. 1767-1781. [Abstract] [reprint]

2004

Ericson, P.G.P. & Sjögren, H. Boken om göken. Bokförlaget Atlantis. 92 pp. [Abstract]

Ericson, P.G.P. & Tyrberg, T. The early history of the Swedish avifauna. A review of the subfossil record and early written sources. Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademiens Handlingar, Antikvariska serien 45, 349 pp. [Abstract]

Frisk, G. Statens vilt samt vissa andra arter inkomna till Naturhistoriska riksmuseet år 2003. Fågelåret 2003. Stockholm: Sveriges Ornitologiska Förening, p. 97.

Irestedt, M. Molecular Systematics of the Antbird-Ovenbird Complex (Aves: Furnariida). PhD thesis, Department of Zoology, University of Stockholm.

Irestedt, M., Fjeldså, J. & Ericson, P.G.P. Phylogenetic relationships of woodcreepers (Aves: Dendrocolaptinae) - incongruence between molecular and morphological data. Journal of Avian Biology, 35, pp. 280-288. [Abstract] [reprint]

Irestedt, M., Fjeldså, J., Nylander, J.A.A. & Ericson, P.G.P. Phylogenetic relationships of typical antbirds (Thamnophilidae) and test of incongruence based on Bayes factors. BMC Evolutionary Biology 2004 4:23. [Abstract] [reprint]

Mayr, G. & Ericson, P.G.P. Evidence for a sister group relationship between the Madagascan mesites (Mesitornithidae) and cuckoos (Cuculidae). Senckenbergiana biologica, 84, pp. 119-135. [Abstract] [reprint]

Storå, J. & Ericson, P.G.P. A prehistoric breeding population of harp seals (Phoca groenlandica) in the Baltic Sea. Marine Mammal Science, 20, pp. 115-133. [Abstract] [reprint]

Zhang, F., Ericson, P.G.P. & Zhou, Z. Description of a new enantiornithine bird from the Early Cretaceous of Hebei, northern China. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 41, pp. 1097-1107. [Abstract] [reprint]

2003

Ericson, P.G.P., Envall, I., Irestedt, M. & Norman, J.A. Inter-familial relationships of the shorebirds (Aves: Charadriiformes) based on nuclear DNA sequence data. BMC Evolutionary Biology 2003 3:16. [Abstract] [reprint]

Ericson, P.G.P., Irestedt, M. & Johansson, U.S. Evolution, biogeography, and patterns of diversification in passerine birds. Journal of Avian Biology, 34, pp. 3-15. [Abstract] [reprint]

Ericson, P.G.P. & Johansson, U.S. Phylogeny of Passerida (Aves: Passeriformes) based on nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 29, pp. 126-138. [Abstract] [reprint]

Ericson, P.G.P., Kjellberg, A.S., Åkermark, A. & Wigh, B. Osteologisk analys av djurbensmaterialet. In: (Ullén, I.) Bronsåldersboplatsen vid Apalle i Uppland. UV Uppsala, Rapport 1997:64. Stockholm: Riksantikvarieämbetet, Avdelningen för arkeologiska undersökningar. pp. 243-317.

Fjeldså, J., Zuccon, D., Irestedt, M., Johansson, U.S. and Ericson, P.G.P. Sapayoa aenigma: a New World representative of 'Old World suboscines'. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Ser. B. (Suppl.). [Abstract] [reprint]

Frisk, G. & Ericson, P.G.P. Statens vilt samt vissa andra arter inkomna till Naturhistoriska riksmuseet år 2002. Fågelåret 2002. Stockholm: Sveriges Ornitologiska Förening, p. 56-57.

James, H.F., Ericson, P.G.P., Slikas, B., Lei, F.-M., Gill, F.B., & Olson, S.L. Pseudopodoces humilis, a misclassified terrestrial tit (Aves: Paridae) of the Tibetan Plateau: evolutionary consequences of shifting adaptive zones. Ibis, 145, pp. 185-202. [Abstract] [reprint] [Editor's choice in Science]

Johansson, U.S. & Ericson, P.G.P. Molecular support for a sister group relationship between Pici and Galbulae (Piciformes sensu Wetmore 1960). Journal of Avian Biology, 34, pp. 185-197. [Abstract] [reprint]

Mayr, G., Manegold, A. & Johansson, U.S. Monophyletic groups within "higher land birds" - comparison of morphological and molecular data. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 41, pp. 233-248. [Abstract] [reprint]

2002

Chiappe, L.M., Lamb, J.P. & Ericson, P.G.P. New enantiornithine bird from the marine Upper Cretaceous of Alabama. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 22, pp. 170-174. [reprint]

Dickinson, E. C. & Ericson, P.G.P. Systematic notes on Asian birds 32: The type locality of Hirundo daurica Laxmann, 1769. Zoologische Verhandelingen Leiden, 340, pp. 205-206. [reprint]

Ericson, P.G.P., Christidis, L., Cooper, A., Irestedt, M., Jackson, J., Johansson, U.S. & Norman, J.A. A Gondwanan origin of passerine birds supported by DNA sequences of the endemic New Zealand wrens. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Ser. B., 269, pp. 235-241. [Abstract] [reprint]

Ericson, P.G.P., Christidis, L., Irestedt, M. & Norman, J.A. Systematic affinities of the lyrebirds (Passeriformes: Menura), with a novel classification of the major groups of passerine birds. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 25, pp. 53-62. [Abstract] [reprint]

Frisk, G. & Ericson, P.G.P. Statens vilt samt vissa andra arter inkomna till Naturhistoriska riksmuseet år 2001. Fågelåret 2001. Stockholm: Sveriges Ornitologiska Förening, pp. 55-56.

Hou, Lianhai & Ericson, P.G.P. A middle Eocene shorebird from China. Condor, 104, pp. 896-899. [Abstract] [reprint]

Irestedt, M., Fjeldså, J., Johansson, U.S. & Ericson, P.G.P. Systematic relationships and biogeography of the tracheophone suboscines (Aves: Passeriformes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 23, pp. 499-512. [Abstract] [reprint]

Johansson, U.S. Clades in the "Higher Land Bird Assemblage". PhD thesis, Department of Zoology, University of Stockholm.

Johansson, U.S., Irestedt, M., Parsons, T.J., & Ericson, P.G.P. Basal phylogeny of the Tyrannoidea based on comparisons of cytochrome b and exons of nuclear c-myc and RAG-1 genes. Auk, 119, pp. 984-995. [Abstract] [reprint]

2001

Ericson, P.G.P., Parsons, T.J. & Johansson, U.S. Morphological and molecular support for non-monophyly of the Galloanserae. In: (Gauthier, J. and Gall, L.F. eds.) New Perspectives on the Origin and Evolution of Birds: Proceedings of the International Symposium in Honor of John H. Ostrom. New Haven: Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University. pp. 157-168.[Abstract] [morphological data matrix]

Ericson, P.G.P. & Frisk, G. Statens vilt samt vissa andra arter inkomna till Naturhistoriska riksmuseet år 2000. Fågelåret 2000. Stockholm: Sveriges Ornitologiska Förening, pp. 54-55.

Irestedt, M., Johansson, U.S., Parsons, T.J. & Ericson, P.G.P. Phylogeny of major lineages of suboscines (Passeriformes) analysed by nuclear DNA sequence data. Journal of Avian Biology, 32, pp. 15-25. [Abstract][reprint]

Johansson, U.S., Parsons, T.J., Irestedt, M. & Ericson, P.G.P. Clades within the 'higher land birds', evaluated by nuclear DNA sequences. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 39, pp. 37-51. [Abstract] [reprint]

2000

Ericson, P.G.P., Johansson, U.S. & Parsons, T.J. Major divisions of oscines revealed by insertions in the nuclear gene c-myc: A novel gene in avian phylogenetics. Auk, 117, pp. 1077-1086. [reprint]

Ericson, P.G.P. & Sjögren, H. Göken och dess ägg. Vår Fågelvärld, 59, pp. 8-15. [link]

Ericson, P.G.P. Systematics, anatomy and paleoecology of the Paleogene family Presbyornithidae (Aves: Anseriformes). PaleoBios, 20, pp. 1-23. [Abstract]

Ericson, P.G.P. & Frisk, G. Statens vilt samt vissa andra arter 1999. Fågelåret 1999. Stockholm: Sveriges Ornitologiska Förening, p. 71.

1999

Ericson, P.G.P. New material of Juncitarsus (Phoenicopteriformes), with a guide for differentiating that genus from the Presbyornithidae (Anseriformes). In: (Olson, S.L. Ed.) Avian Paleontology at the Close of the 20th Century: Proceedings of the 4th International Meeting of the Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution, Washington, D.C., 4-7 June 1996. Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology, 89, pp. 245-251. [Abstract]

Ericson, P.G.P. & Frisk, G. Statens vilt 1998. Fågelåret 1998. Stockholm: Sveriges Ornitologiska Förening, pp. 71-73.

Ericson, P.G.P. & Storå, J. A manual to the skeletal measurements of the seal genera Halichoerus and Phoca (Mammalia: Pinnipedia). Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm. Stencil. [reprint]

1998

Ericson, P.G.P. & Frisk, G. Statens vilt 1997. Fågelåret 1997. Stockholm: Sveriges Ornitologiska Förening, pp. 81-82.

1997

Ericson, P.G.P. Swedish records of the eastern Palearctic Hoopoe subspecies Upupa epops saturata. Bulletin of the British Ornithologist's Club, 117, pp. 19-26. [Abstract]

Ericson, P.G.P. Systematic relationships of the Paleogene family Presbyornithidae (Aves: Anseriformes). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 121, pp. 429-483. [Abstract]

Ericson, P.G.P. & Amarilla, L.A. First observations and new distributional data for birds in Paraguay. Bulletin of the British Ornithologist's Club, 117, pp. 60-67. [Abstract]

Ericson, P.G.P. & Frisk, G. Statens vilt 1996. Fågelåret 1996. Stockholm: Sveriges Ornitologiska Förening, pp. 155-157.

Ericson, P.G.P. & Hernández Carrasquilla F. Subspecific affinity of Prehistoric Baltic cormorants (Aves: Phalacrocoracidae). Ardea, 85, pp. 1-7. [Abstract]

Ericson, P.G.P., Tyrberg, T., Kjellberg, A.S., Jonsson, L. & Ullén, I. The earliest record of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) in northern Europe. Journal of Archaeological Science, 24, pp. 183-191. [Abstract]

1996

Eames, J. & Ericson, P.G.P. The Björkegren expeditions to French Indochina: A collection of birds from Vietnam and Cambodia. Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society, 44, pp. 75-111. [Abstract]

Ericson, P.G.P. The skeletal evidence for a sister-group relationship of anseriform and galliform birds - a critical evaluation. Journal of Avian Biology, 27, pp. 195-202. [Abstract]

1995 and before (selected publications)

Ericson, P.G.P., Wigh, B. & Svensson, K. 1995. Retrieval of faunal remains at the excavations at Birka: principles, preliminary results and an outline of future osteological analysis. In: (Ambrosiani, B. & Clarke, H. Eds.) Excavations in the Black Earth 1990. Birka Studies 2. pp. 82-89.

Ericson, P.G.P. 1994. Ett hotat fågelparadis. Fauna och Flora, 89. pp. 3-9.

Ericson, P.G.P. 1991. Fjäderfä och vildfågel - osteologisk analys av fågelben. In: (Carlsson, R., Elfwendahl, M. & Perming, A.) Bryggaren - ett kvarter i centrum. RAä-SHMM Rapport UV 1991:1. pp. 207-219.

Tyrberg, T. & Ericson, P.G.P. 1991. Fågellivet i Uppland från stenålder till medeltid - en utvärdering av jordfunna skelettdelar. Fåglar i Uppland, 18, pp. 27-39.

Ericson, P.G.P., Iregren, E. & Vretemark, M. 1988. Animal exploitation in Birka - A preliminary report. Fornvännen, 83, pp. 81-88.

Ericson, P.G.P. 1987. Interpretations of archaeological bird remains: a taphonomic approach. Journal of Archaeological Science, 14, pp. 65-75.

Ericson, P.G.P. 1987. Osteology of the Eider Somateria mollissima (L.). A Study of Sexual, Geographic and Temporal Morphometric Variation in the Eider Skeleton. Studies 5. Stockholm: Museum of National Antiquities. 144 pp.

Ericson, P.G.P. 1987. Exploitations of seabirds in central Sweden during late Iron Age. In: (Burenhult, G., Carlsson, A., Hyenstrand, Å & Sjovold, T. Eds.) Theoretical Approaches to Artefacts, Settlement and Society. BAR International series 366, pp. 445-453.

Ericson, P.G.P. 1986. A multivariate analysis of microevolution in the humerus of the eider (Somateria mollissima (L.)). In: (Königsson, L.-K. Ed.) Nordic Late Quarternary Biology and Ecology. Striae, 24, pp. 107-109.



Abstracts

Alström, P., Olsson, U., Rasmussen, P.C., Yao, C.-T., Ericson, P.G.P. & Sundberg, P. (in press) Morphological, vocal and genetic divergence in the Cettia achanthizoides complex (Aves: Cettiidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.


We used morphological, vocal and molecular (one mitochondrial and two nuclear loci) data to re-evaluate the taxonomic status of the taxa acanthizoides, concolor and brunnescens in the Cettia acanthizoides (J. Verreaux, 1871) complex. We conclude that all three are valid taxa, and that acanthizoides of China and concolor of Taiwan are best treated as conspecific, while brunnescens of the Himalayas is better considered a separate species. The degree of morphological, acoustic and genetic differentiation is variably congruent among all taxa; the recently separated acanthizoides and concolor differ slightly in plumage and structure but are indistinguishable in vocalisations, while the earlier diverged brunnescens and acanthizoides/concolor differ only slightly more in morphology but to a much greater degree in vocalisations. We stress the essential nature of taxonomic revisions as a prerequisite for biodiversity estimates required for conservation planning.


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Ekman, J. & Ericson, P.G.P. (in press) Out of Gondwanaland; the evolutionary history of cooperative breeding and social behaviour among crows, magpies, jays and allies. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.

Cooperative breeding is comparatively rare among birds on the mainly temperate and boreal Northern Hemisphere. Here we test if the distribution of breeding system reflects a response to latitude in a phylogenetic analysis using correlates with geographical range among the corvids (crows, jays, magpies and allied groups). The corvids trace their ancestry to the predominantly cooperative ‘Corvida’ branch of oscine passerines from the Australo-Papuan region on the ancient Gondwanaland supercontinent, but we could not confirm the ancestral state of the breeding system within the family, while family cohesion may be ancestral. Initial diversification among pair-breeding taxa that are basal in the corvid phylogeny represented by genera, such as Pyrrhocorax and Dendrocitta, indicates that the corvid family in its current form could have evolved from pair-breeding ancestors only after they had escaped the Australo-Papuan shield. Within the family, cooperative breeding (alloparental care/family cohesion) is strongly correlated to latitude and its predominance in species maintaining a southerly distribution indicates a secondary evolution of cooperative breeding in the lineage leading away from the basal corvids. Multiple transitions show plasticity in the breeding system, indicating a response to latitude rather than evolutionary inertia. The evolutionary background to the loss of cooperative breeding among species with a northerly distribution is complex and differs between species, indicating a response to a variety of selection forces. Family cohesion where the offspring provide alloparental care is a main route to cooperatively breeding groups among corvids. Some corvid species only lost alloparental care while maintaining coherent family groups. Other species lost family cohesion, and as a corollary they also lost the behaviour, where retained offspring provide alloparental care.


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Fuchs, J., Ohlson, J.I., Ericson, P.G.P. & Pasquet, E. (in press) Molecular phylogeny and biogeographic history of the piculets (Piciformes: Picumninae). Journal of Avian Biology.

The subfamily Picumninae (piculets) includes 3 genera and 30 species of tiny and short-tailed woodpeckers with a pantropical distribution. Within the Picumninae, two cases of intercontinentally disrupted distributions at the genus level occur. The first one concerns the genus Sasia (one species in Africa and two in Southeast Asia) while the second concerns Picumnus (one species in Southeast Asia and 25 in South America). These disrupted distributions, as well as several morphological differences, have lead some authors to place the African representative of Sasia and the Southeast Asian representative of Picumnus in their own monotypic genera (Verreauxia and Vivia, respectively). To address the taxonomic status and biogeographic history of the piculets, we sequenced 2676 bp of DNA from one mitochondrial (ND2) and two nuclear markers (myoglobin intron 2 and ß-fibrinogen intron 7). Monophyly of Picumninae could not be recovered with confidence, while monophyly of Sasia and Picumnus were always strongly supported. Molecular dating analyses revealed that the splits both between the African and Indo-Malayan Sasia and between the New World and Old World Picumnus occurred at ca 7.9 Myrs BP. This time corresponds to the beginning of the formation of the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets and the accompanying expansion of grasslands throughout the world. The spread of open areas in the northern parts of Eurasia and America prevented gene flow between tropical forest birds, such as the piculets, in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America, respectively.


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Irestedt, M., Fjeldså, J. & Ericson, P.G.P. (in press) Evolution of the ovenbird-woodcreeper assemblage (Aves: Furnariidae) - major shifts in nest architecture and adaptive radiation. Journal of Avian Biology.

The Neotropical ovenbirds (Furnariidae) form an extraordinary morphologically and ecologically diverse passerine radiation, which includes many examples of species that are superficially similar to other passerine birds as a resulting from their adaptations to similar lifestyles. The ovenbirds further exhibits a truly remarkable variation in nest types, arguably approaching that found in the entire passerine clade. Herein we present a genus-level phylogeny of ovenbirds based on both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA including a more complete taxon sampling than in previous molecular studies of the group. The phylogenetic results are in good agreement with earlier molecular studies of ovenbirds, and supports the suggestion that Geositta and Sclerurus form the sister clade to both core-ovenbirds and woodcreepers. Within the core-ovenbirds several relationships that are incongruent with traditional classifications are suggested. Among other things, the philydorine ovenbirds are found to be non-monophyletic. The mapping of principal nesting strategies onto the molecular phylogeny suggests cavity nesting to be plesiomorphic within the ovenbird-woodcreeper radiation. It is also suggested that the shift from cavity nesting to building vegetative nests is likely to have happened at least three times during the evolution of the group. We suggest that the shifts in nest architecture within the furnariine and synallaxine ovenbirds have served as an ecological release that has facilitated diversification into new habitats and new morphological specializations.


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Alström, P., Ericson, P.G.P., Olsson, U. & Sundberg, P. 2006. Phylogeny and classification of the avian superfamily Sylvioidea, based on nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 38, pp. 381-397.

Sylvioidea is one of the three superfamilies recognized within the largest avian radiation, the parvorder Passerida. In the present study, which is the first taxon-dense analysis of the Sylvioidea, we use sequence data from the nuclear myoglobin intron II and mitochondrial cytochrome b gene to investigate the interrelationships among the four "sylvioid" clades found by previous workers, as well as the relationships within the largest of these clades. The nuclear and mitochondrial loci estimate basically the same phylogeny, with minor differences in resolution. The trees based on myoglobin and the combined data, respectively, identify a strongly supported clade that includes the taxa previously allocated to Sylvioidea, except for Sitta (nuthatches), Certhia (treecreepers), Parus (tits), Remiz (penduline tits), Troglodytes and Campylorhynchus (wrens), Polioptila (gnatcatchers), and Regulus (crests/kinglets); this also comprises larks, which have previously been placed in the superfamily Passeroidea. We refer to this clade as Sylvioidea. This clade is further divided into 11 main, well supported clades, which we suggest form the basis for a revised classification. In addition, our data suggest several cases of non-monophyletic genera.


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Olson, S.L., Irestedt, M., Ericson, P.G.P. & Fjeldså, J. 2005. Independent evolution of two Darwinian marsh-dwelling ovenbirds (Furnariidae: Limnornis, Limnoctites). Ornitologia Neotropical, 16, pp. 347-359.

The Curve-billed Reedhaunter (Limnornis curvirostris) and the Straight-billed Reedhaunter (Limnoctites rectirostris) are marsh-dwelling ovenbirds that were first collected by Charles Darwin in Uruguay. Each has a limited distribution in southernmost Brazil, Uruguay, and northern Argentina, within which the birds occupy very distinct habitats. Originally described as congeners because of overall similarity of plumage, the two species have been treated as close relatives through most of their history despite obvious structural differences. We analyzed DNA sequences from three different genes of these species, comparing them with a wide variety of other species of Furnariidae and several outgroup taxa. Limnoctites rectirostris belongs among the species traditionally placed in Cranioleuca, being most closely related to the marsh-dwelling Sulphur-throated Spinetail (C. sulphurifera) among the species we sampled. This is supported by vocalizations and nidification. Limnornis curvirostris forms a clade with the Wren-like Rushbird (Phleocryptes melanops), with the Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper (Lochmias nematura) as a rather distant sister-taxon. A close relationship between Limnornis and Phleocryptes is supported by the apparently unique nest architecture and blue-green egg color.


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Ericson, P.G.P., Jansén, A.-L., Johansson, U.S. & Ekman, J. 2005. Inter-generic relationships of the crows, jays, magpies and allied groups (Aves: Corvidae) based on nucleotide sequence data. Journal of Avian Biology, 36, pp. 222-234.

Phylogenetic relationships were studied based on DNA sequences obtained from all recognized genera of the family Corvidae sensu stricto. The aligned data set consists 2589 bp obtained from one mitochondrial and two nuclear genes. Maximum parsimony, maximum-likelihood, and Bayesian inference analyses were used to estimate phylogenetic relationships. The analyses were done for each gene separately, as well as for all genes combined. An analysis of a taxonomically expanded data set of cytochrome b sequences was performed in order to infer the phylogenetic positions of six genera for which nuclear genes could not be obtained. Monophyly of the Corvidae is supported by all analyses, as well as by the occurrence of a deletion of 16 bp in the ß-fibrinogen intron in all ingroup taxa. Temnurus and Pyrrhocorax are placed as the sister group to all other corvids, while Cissa and Urocissa appear as the next clade inside them. Further up in the tree, two larger and well-supported clades of genera were recovered by the analyses. One has an entirely New World distribution (the New World jays), while the other includes mostly Eurasian (and one African) taxa. Outside these two major clades are Cyanopica and Perisoreus whose phylogenetic positions could not be determined by the present data. A biogeographic analysis of our data suggests that the Corvidae underwent an initial radiation in Southeast Asia. This is consistent with the observation that almost all basal clades in the phylogenetic tree consist of species adapted to tropical and subtropical forest habitats.


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Fjeldså, J., Irestedt, M. & Ericson, P.G.P. 2005. Molecular data reveal some major adaptational shifts in the early evolution of the most diverse avian family, the Furnariidae. Journal of Ornithology, 146, pp. 1-13.

A robust phylogeny for the family Furnariidae (sensu lato) was obtained using long sequences of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Contrary to the widely accepted sistergroup relationship of ovenbirds (Furnariinae) and woodcreepers (Dendrocolaptinae), a basal clade is suggested for Sclerurus and Geositta, and Xenops, hitherto considered an aberrant ovenbird, is transferred to the woodcreeper lineage. The morphological variation is re-interpreted in view of this revised phylogenetic hypothesis. Presumably, the remarkable adaptive radiation in this family started as primitive, Sclerurus-likes forms, which used the tail as a prop during terrestrial feeding, lured up to seek food on tree-trunks. The two basal woodcreeper genera Xenops and Glyphorynchus show strong cranial specializations for hammering in wood, thus presenting a remarkable parallelism with the family Picidae, Xenops resembling a piculet, Glyphorynchus a tiny woodpecker. However, this specialization was lost in other woodcreepers, which show a more normal passerine skull, adapted for probing and prying in tree-trunk crevices and sallying for escaping insects. The ovenbirds developed a more flexible (rhynchokinetic) bill, well suited for retrieving prey hiding in dead-leaf clusters suspended in the vegetation, and in masses of epiphytes. Adaptations to live in open terrain are secondary.


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Johansson, U.S. & Ericson, P.G.P. 2005. A re-evaluation of basal phylogenetic relationships within trogons (Aves: Trogonidae) based on nuclear DNA sequences. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 43, pp. 166-173.

The avian clade Trogonidae (trogons) consists of approximately 40 species distributed pantropically in the Neotropical, Afrotropical and Indomalayan zoogeographical regions. In this study we evaluate the basal phylogenetic relationships within the trogons based on DNA sequences from three nuclear introns (myoglobin intron 2, ß-fibrinogen intron 7 and glyceraldehydes-3-phosphodehydrogenase [G3PDH] intron 11). In addition, previously published cytochrome b and 12S sequences were re-analyzed and combined with the nuclear data set. The analysis of the three nuclear genes combined suggests a sister group relationship between the Afrotropical (Apaloderma) and Indomalayan (Harpactes) clades, whereas the Neotropical taxa (Trogon, Pharomachrus, and Priotelus) form an unresolved polytomy basal to these two groups. In addition, two of the three individual gene trees also support a sister group relationship between the Afrotropical and Indomalayan trogons. This is at odds with previously published studies based on mitochondrial sequence data and DNA-DNA hybridization. The third nuclear intron (G3PDH), however, suggests that the Afrotropical trogons are basal relative the other trogons. This was also suggested by the mitochondrial data set, as well as the analysis of the combined nuclear and mitochondrial data. Both of these conflicting hypotheses are supported by high posterior probabilities. An insertion in ß-fibrinogen further supports a basal position of the Afrotropical clade. Analyses of the myoglobin intron with additional outgroups place the root differently and strongly support monophyly of each of the zoogeographical regions (including the Neotropics), and these three clades form a basal trichotomy. This suggests that that rooting is a serious problem in resolving basal phylogenetic relationships among the trogons.


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Olsson, U., Alström, P., Ericson, P.G.P. & Sundberg, P. 2005. Non-monophyletic taxa and cryptic species - evidence from a molecular phylogeny of leaf-warblers (Phylloscopus, Aves). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 36, pp. 261-276.

The avian taxa Cryptigata and Acanthopneuste have been treated either as subgenera within Phylloscopus (leaf-warblers), or as a distinct genus and an informal group, respectively. The circumscriptions of these taxa have varied between authors. We estimated the phylogeny, based on the mitochondrial cytochrome b and 12S genes and the nuclear myoglobin intron II, of all except two of the species placed in the Cryptigata and Acanthopneuste groups, as well as two recently described species and representatives of all subgenera and major clades in Phylloscopus and Seicercus recognized by previous studies. Neither Cryptigata nor Acanthopneuste are found to be monophyletic. The polytypic species P. reguloides and P. davisoni show unexpectedly deep divergences between some of their respective subspecies, and the latter species is non-monophyletic. We propose that the former be split into three species and the latter into two species. Seicercus xanthoschistos is nested in a clade that includes only Phylloscopus, and we recommend that it be placed in Phylloscopus. The rate of morphological divergence varies considerably among the taxa in this study. Our results emphasize the importance of dense taxon sampling in intrageneric phylogenetic studies.


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Qu, Y.H., Ericson, P.G.P., Lei, F.M. & Li, S. H. (2005) Post-glacial colonization of the Tibetan plateau inferred from the matrilineal genetic structure of the endemic red-necked snow finch, Pyrgilauda ruficollis. Molecular Ecology, 14, pp. 1767-1781.

Most phylogeographic studies of post-glacial colonization focus on high latitude locations in the northern hemisphere. Here, we studied the phylogeographic structure of the red-necked snow finch Pyrgilauda ruficollis, an endemic species of the Tibetan plateau. We analyzed 879 bp of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and 529 bp of the control region in 41 birds from four regional groups separated by mountain ranges. We detected 34 haplotypes, 31 of which occurred in a single individual and only three of which were shared among sampling sites within regional groups or among regional groups. Haplotype diversity was high (h=0.94); nucleotide diversity was low (ð=0.00415) and genetic differentiation was virtually non-existent. Analyses of mismatch distributions and geographically nested clades yielded results consistent with contiguous range expansion, and the expansion times were estimated as 0.07 to 0.19 mya. Our results suggest that P. ruficollis colonized the Tibetan plateau after the extensive glacial period (0.5 to 0.175 mya), expanding from the eastern margin towards the inner plateau. Thus, in contrast to many of the post-glacial phylogeographic structures known at high latitudes, this colonization occurred without matrilineal population structuring. This might be due to the short glacial cycles typical of the Tibetan plateau, adaptation of P. ruficollis to cold conditions, or refugia and colonized habitat being semi-continuous and thus promoting population mixing.


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Irestedt, M., Fjeldså, J., Nylander, J.A.A. & Ericson, P.G.P. 2004. Phylogenetic relationships of typical antbirds (Thamnophilidae) and test of incongruence based on Bayes factors. BMC Evolutionary Biology 2004 4:23.

The typical antbird (Thamnophilidae) forms a monophyletic and diverse family of suboscine passerines that inhabit neotropical forests. However, the phylogenetic relationships within this assemblage are poorly understood. Herein, we present a hypothesis of the generic relationships of this group based on Bayesian inference analyses of two nuclear introns and the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. The level of phylogenetic congruence between the individual genes has been investigated utilizing Bayes factors. We also explore how changes in the substitution models affected the observed incongruence between partitions of our data set. The phylogenetic analysis supports both novel relationships, as well as traditional groupings. Among the more interesting novel relationship suggested is that the Terenura antwrens, the wing-banded antbird (Myrmornis torquata), the spot-winged antshrike (Pygiptila stellaris) and the russet antshrike (Thamnistes anabatinus) are sisters to all other typical antbirds. The remaining genera fall into two major clades. The first includes antshrikes, antvireos and the Herpsilochmus antwrens, while the second clade consists of most antwren genera, the Myrmeciza antbirds, the "professional" ant-following antbirds, and allied species. Our results also support previously suggested polyphyly of Myrmotherula antwrens and Myrmeciza antbirds. The tests of phylogenetic incongruence, using Bayes factors, clearly suggests that allowing the gene partitions to have separate topology parameters clearly increased the model likelihood. However, changing a component of the nucleotide substitution model had much higher impact on the model likelihood. The phylogenetic results are in broad agreement with traditional classification of the typical antbirds, but some relationships are unexpected based on external morphology. In these cases their true affinities may have been obscured by convergent evolution and morphological adaptations to new habitats or food sources, and genera like Myrmeciza antbirds and the Myrmotherula antwrens obviously need taxonomic revisions. Although, Bayes factors seem promising for evaluating the relative contribution of components to an evolutionary model, the results suggests that even if strong evidence for a model allowing separate topology parameters is found, this might not mean strong evidence for separate gene phylogenies, as long as vital components of the substitution model are still missing.


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Ericson, P.G.P. & Sjögren, H. 2004. Boken om göken. Bokförlaget Atlantis. 92 pp.

Redan aristoteles förundrades mycket över gökens levnadsvanor. Han visste att gökars ägg varierar i utseende beroende på hos vilka fosterföräldrar de ska läggas, men hur kunde gökhonan veta vilken värdart hon skulle besöka? Och varför tillät fosterföräldrarna att gökungen kastade deras ägg och ungar ur boet? Svaren på dessa och andra frågor om göken var länge lika fantasieggande som felaktiga. Först idag, genom nogsamt planerade experiment och DNA-analyser, kan gökens beteende ges sin förklaring. Författarna har gjort en beskrivande och avslöjande bok om gökens märkliga liv, alltifrån äggets vandring i äggledaren till den vuxna fågelns långa höstflyttning till Afrika. Boken är rikt illustrerad bl a med bilder som på ett helt nytt sätt tolkar och visar samspelet mellan gökens och värdarternas äggutseenden. Gökens snillrikt bedrägliga beteende visas även i en serie unika foton.


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Ericson, P.G.P. & Tyrberg, T. 2004. The early history of the Swedish avifauna. A review of the subfossil record and early written sources. Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademiens Handlingar, Antikvariska serien, 45, 349 pp.

Many animal and plant species recolonized Scandinavia as soon as suitable living conditions appeared after the last ice age. Other species have reached Scandinavia later, while several of the first immigrants have ceased to breed due to lack of suitable habitats and other factors. Changes of the composition of the Swedish avifauna during the 14,000 years since deglaciation began are analyzed herein based on archaeozoological data from bird remains recovered from more than 500 archaeological and natural deposits. For the post-Medieval period, up to ca AD 1800, the biogeographic analysis is based on written (but often unpublished) accounts. Although the subfossil record of birds is unevenly distributed in time and space, certain general patterns of the evolution and distribution of the Swedish avifauna can be observed. A large proportion of the species that inhabit Sweden today seemingly immigrated quite soon after the ice withdrew. The most important route of immigration was from the south and west, but later immigrants also followed northerly or easterly routes. The results also show that some species, traditionally regarded as very late immigrants (e.g., Mute Swan, Pochard and Partridge), have bred in Sweden for several thousand years. Other species, such as the White Stork and Black Stork, have no subfossil record and are suggested to have immigrated after the medieval period. The book contains a brief outline of the postglacial history of the Scandinavian fauna and flora, as well as a discussion about the characteristics of the archaeozoological source material. It also includes chapters on the history of domesticated birds and prehistoric falconry in Sweden.


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Irestedt, M., Fjeldså, J. & Ericson, P.G.P. 2004. Phylogenetic relationships of woodcreepers (Aves: Dendrocolaptinae) - incongruence between molecular and morphological data. Journal of Avian Biology, 35, pp. 280-288.

The woodcreepers is a highly specialized lineage within the New World suboscine radiation. Most systematic studies of higher-level relationships of this group rely on morphological characters, and few studies utilizing molecular data exist. In this paper, we present a molecular phylogeny of the major lineages of woodcreepers (Aves: Dendrocolaptinae), based on nucleotide sequence data from a nuclear non-coding gene-region (myoglobin intron II) and a protein-coding mitochondrial gene (cytochrome b). A good topological agreement between the individual gene trees suggests that the resulting phylogeny reflects the true evolutionary history of woodcreepers well. However, the DNA-based phylogeny conflicts with the results of a parsimony analysis of morphological characters. The topological differences mainly concern the basal branches of the trees. The morphological data places the genus Drymornis in a basal position (mainly supported by characters in the hindlimb), while our data suggests it to be derived among woodcreepers. Unlike most other woodcreepers, Drymornis is ground-adapted, as are the ovenbirds, and the observed morphological similarities between Drymornis and the ovenbird outgroup may thus be explained from convergence or from reversal to an ancestral state. This observation raises the question of the use of characters associated with locomotion and feeding in phylogenetic reconstruction based on parsimony.


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Mayr, G. & Ericson, P.G.P. 2004. Evidence for a sister group relationship between the Madagascan mesites (Mesitornithidae) and cuckoos (Cuculidae). Senckenbergiana biologica, 84, pp. 119-135.

The Madagascan Mesitornithidae (mesites or roatelos) are an enigmatic and poorly known group of small terrestrial birds. In this study their phylogenetic relationships are analyzed using a data set of 91 morphological characters and 29 extant avian taxa. Parsimony analysis of this data strongly supports monophyly of the taxon (Mesitornithidae + Cuculidae [cuckoos]) which has not been proposed before. Derived anatomical, parasitological, and behavioral characters are presented which support monophyly of this clade. Monophyly of the taxon (Mesitornithidae + Cuculidae) is also supported by a preliminary analysis of DNA sequences of two nuclear, protein-coding genes, RAG-1 and myoglobin intron II. In addition, sistergroup relationships of several other gruiform and non-gruiform taxa (Columbidae and Pteroclidae) are supported by derived morphological characters. Monophyly of a taxon including the remaining "Gruiformes" (i.e. excluding Mesitornithidae) is neither supported by morphological nor molecular analyses.


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Storå, J. & Ericson, P.G.P. 2004. A prehistoric breeding population of harp seals (Phoca groenlandica) in the Baltic Sea. Marine Mammal Science, 20, pp. 115-133.

The pelagic and gregarious, low Arctic harp seal (Phoca groenlandica) is the most common seal species in most refuse faunas from coastal hunter-gatherer sites dating from the late Atlantic to the early Subboreal period (ca. 4000-2000 cal BC) in the Baltic Sea. Our main objective is to examine the migration contra breeding population hypotheses regarding the Baltic harp seals. Analyses of epiphyseal fusion data and osteometry of archaeological harp seal remains from 25 dwelling-sites suggest that a local breeding population established itself in the early Subboreal period. In the Middle Neolithic the rookery possibly was situated in the Baltic proper, south of Åland and west of Gotland. The mean adult size of the Baltic harp seals decreased, suggesting minimal genetic exchange with the north Atlantic Ocean population. Genetic drift, inter-specific competition, and over-hunting by humans are all factors likely to have contributed to the eventual extinction of harp seals in the Baltic Sea.


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Zhang, F., Ericson, P.G.P. & Zhou, Z. 2004. Description of a new enantiornithine bird from the Early Cretaceous of Hebei, northern China. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 41, pp. 1097-1107.

This paper describes a new enantiornithine fossil bird, Vescornis hebeiensis, nov. sp. from the Early Cretaceous of China. We refer Vescornis to the crown clade Euenantiornithes based on several characteristics observed in the thoracic girdle and wing. Vescornis also exhibits characteristics that separate it from other enantiornithine birds, such as the short alular phalanx, the vestigial manual claws, and the well-developed and long foot claws. These features suggest an adaptation towards an improved flight capability, while the ability of Vescornis to climb is reduced compared with many other enantiornithine birds.


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Ericson, P.G.P., Envall, I., Irestedt, M. & Norman, J.A. 2003. Inter-familial relationships of the shorebirds (Aves: Charadriiformes) based on nuclear DNA sequence data. BMC Evolutionary Biology 3:16.

Phylogenetic hypotheses of higher-level relationships in the order Charadriiformes based on morphological data, partly disagree with those based on DNA-DNA hybridisation data. So far, these relationships have not been tested by analysis of DNA sequence data. Herein we utilize 1692 bp of aligned, nuclear DNA sequences obtained from 23 charadriiform species, representing 15 families. We also test earlier suggestions that bustards and sandgrouses may be nested with the charadriiforms. The data is analysed with methods based on the parsimony and maximum-likelihood criteria. Several novel phylogenetic relationships were recovered and strongly supported by the data, regardless of which method of analysis was employed. These include placing the gulls and allied groups as a sistergroup to the sandpiper-like birds, and not to the plover-like birds. The auks clearly belong to the clade with the gulls and allies, and are not basal to most other charadriiform birds as suggested in analyses of morphological data. Pluvialis, which has been supposed to belong to the plover family (Charadriidae), represents a basal branch that constitutes the sister taxon to a clade with plovers, oystercatchers and avocets. The thick-knees and sheathbills unexpectedly cluster together. The DNA sequence data contains a strong phylogenetic signal that results in a well-resolved phylogenetic tree with many strongly supported internodes. Taxonomically it is the most inclusive study of shorebird families that relies on nucleotide sequences. The presented phylogenetic hypothesis provides a solid framework for analyses of macroevolution of ecological, morphological and behavioural adaptations observed within the order Charadriiformes.


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Ericson, P.G.P., Irestedt, M. & Johansson, U.S. 2003. Evolution, biogeography, and patterns of diversification in passerine birds. Journal of Avian Biology, 34, pp. 3-15.

This paper summarizes and discusses the many new insights into passerine evolution gained from an increased general interest in avian evolution among biologists, and particularly from the extensive use of DNA sequence data in phylogenetic reconstruction. The sister group relationship between the New Zealand rifleman and all other passerines, indicates the importance of the former southern supercontinent Gondwana in the earliest evolution of this group. Following the break-up of Gondwana, the ancestors of other major passerine groups became isolated in Australia (oscines), South America (New World suboscines), and, possibly, the then connected Kerguelen Plateau/ India/Madagascar tectonic plates (Old World suboscines). The oscines underwent a significant radiation in the Australo-Papuan region, and only a few oscine lineages have spread further than to the nearby Southeast Asia. A remarkable exception is the ancestor to the vast Passerida radiation, which now comprises 35% of all bird species. This group obviously benefitted greatly from the increased diversity in plant seed size and morphology during the Tertiary. The lyrebirds (and possibly scrub-birds) constitute the sister group to all other oscines, which renders "Corvida" (sensu Sibley and Ahlquist 1990) paraphyletic. Sequence data suggests that Passerida, the other clade of oscines postulated based on the results of DNA-DNA hybridizations, is monophyletic, and that the rockfowl and rock-jumpers are the most basal members of this clade. The suboscines in the Old World (Eurylamides) and the New World (Tyrannides), respectively, are sister groups. A provisional, working classification of the passerines is presented based on the increased understanding of the major patterns of passerine evolution.


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Ericson, P.G.P. & Johansson, U.S. 2003. Phylogeny of Passerida (Aves: Passeriformes) based on nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 29, pp. 126-138.

Passerida is a monophyletic group of oscine passerines that includes almost 3500 species (about 36%) of all bird species in the world. The current understanding of higher-level relationships within Passerida is based on DNA-DNA hybridizations [C.G. Sibley, J.E. Ahlquist, Phylogeny and Classification of Birds, 1990, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT]. Our results are based on analyses of 3130 aligned nucleotide sequence data obtained from 48 ingroup and 13 outgroup genera. Three nuclear genes were sequenced: c-myc (498-510 bp), RAG-1 (930 bp), and myoglobin (693-722 bp), as well one mitochondrial gene; cytochrome b (879 bp). The data were analysed by parsimony, maximum-likelihood, and Bayesian inference. The African rockfowl and rockjumper are found to constitute the deepest branch within Passerida, but relationships among the other taxa are poorly resolved - only four major clades receive statistical support. One clade corresponds to Passeroidea of [C.G. Sibley, B.L. Monroe, Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World, 1990, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT] and includes, e.g., flowerpeckers, sunbirds, accentors, weavers, estrilds, wagtails, finches, and sparrows. Starlings, mockingbirds, thrushes, Old World flycatchers, and dippers also group together in a clade corresponding to Muscicapoidea of Sibley and Monroe [op. cit.]. Monophyly of their Sylvioidea could not be corroborated - these taxa falls either into a clade with wrens, gnatcatchers, and nuthatches, or one with, e.g., warblers, bulbuls, babblers, and white-eyes. The tits, penduline tits, and waxwings belong to Passerida but have no close relatives among the taxa studied herein.


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Fjeldså, J., Zuccon, D., Irestedt, M., Johansson, U.S. & Ericson, P.G.P. 2003. Sapayoa aenigma: a New World representative of 'Old World suboscines'. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Ser. B. (Suppl.).

Passerine birds are very plastic in their adaptations, which has made it difficult to define phylogenetic lineages and correctly allocate all species to these. Sapayoa aenigma, a member of the large group of New World flycatchers, has been difficult to place, and DNA-DNA hybridization experiments have indicated that it may have been misplaced. This is confirmed here, as base sequencing of two nuclear genes places it as a deep branch in the group of broadbills and pittas of the Old World tropics. The peculiar distribution of this lineage may be best explained in terms of a Gondwanic and Late Cretaceous origin of the passerine birds, as this particular lineage dispersed from the Antarctic landmass, reaching the Old World tropics via the drifting Indian plate, and South America via the West Antarctic Peninsula.


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James, H.F., Ericson, P.G.P., Slikas, B., Lei, F.-M., Gill, F.B., & Olson, S.L. 2003. Pseudopodoces humilis, a misclassified terrestrial tit (Aves: Paridae) of the Tibetan Plateau: evolutionary consequences of shifting adaptive zones. Ibis, 145, pp. 185-202.

Pseudopodoces humilis (Hume's Ground Jay) is a small passerine bird that inhabits the high rocky steppes of the Tibetan (Qinghai-Xizang) Plateau. Although it was long classified as a small species of ground jay (Podoces), two previous anatomical studies cast doubt on its assignment to the Corvidae (crows and jays). We studied the evolutionary relationships of Pseudopodoces using three independent datasets drawn from comparative osteology, the nuclear c-myc gene, and the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. All three datasets agree on the placement of Pseudopodoces in the family Paridae (tits and chickadees). The cytochrome b data further suggest that Pseudopodoces may be closest to the Great Tit (Parus major) species group. Pseudopodoces is the only species of Paridae whose distribution is limited to treeless terrain. Its evolutionary relationships were long obscured by adaptations to open habitat, including pale, cryptic plumage; a long, decurved bill for probing in crevices among rocks or in the ground; and long legs for terrestrial locomotion. Despite these accommodations to a novel adaptive zone, its evolutionary affinity with the Paridae is clearly expressed in comparative osteology and genetics, and is supported by its habit of nesting in cavities.


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Johansson, U.S. & Ericson, P.G.P. 2003. Molecular support for a sister group relationship between Pici and Galbulae (Piciformes sensu Wetmore 1960). Journal of Avian Biology, 34, pp. 185-197.

Woodpeckers, honeyguides, barbets, and toucans form a well-supported clade with approximately 355 species. This clade, commonly referred to as Pici, share with the South American clade Galbulae (puffbirds and jacamars) a zygodactyl foot with a unique arrangement of the deep flexor tendons (Gadow's Type VI). Based on these characters, Pici and Galbulae are often considered sister taxa, and have in traditional classification been placed in the order Piciformes. There are, however, a wealth of other morphological characters that contradicts this association, and indicates that Pici is closer related to the Passeriformes (passerines) than to Galbulae. Galbulae, in turn, is considered more closely related to the rollers and ground-rollers (Coracii). In this study, we evaluate these two hypotheses by using DNA sequence data from exons of the nuclear RAG-1 and c-myc genes, and an intron of the nuclear myoglobin gene, totally including 3400 basepairs of aligned sequences. The results indicate a sister group relationship between Pici and Galbulae, i.e. the monophyly of the Piciformes, and this association has high statistical support in terms of bootstrap values and posterior probabilities. This study also support several associations within the traditional order Coraciiformes, including a sister group relationship between Alcedinidae and a Todidae - Momotidae clade, with Meropidae placed basal relative these three taxa.


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Mayr, G., Manegold, A. & Johansson, U.S. 2003. Monophyletic groups within "higher land birds" - comparison of morphological and molecular data. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 41, pp. 233-248.

The relationships within the "higher land birds" and putatively related taxa are analyzed in a study using 89 morphological characters and DNA sequences of three nuclear, protein-coding genes, c-myc, RAG-1, and myoglobin intron II. Separate analyses of the different data sets and a "total evidence" analysis in which the data sets of the morphological and molecular analyses were combined are compared. All three analyses support the hitherto disputed sister group relationship between Pici (Ramphastidae, Indicatoridae, and Picidae) and Galbulae (Galbulidae and Bucconidae). Previously unrecognized osteological characters are presented which support this clade. Analysis of the morphological data and of the combined data set further supported monophyly of the taxon (Strigiformes + (Falconidae + Accipitridae)). Also supported by analyses of the morphological data and of the combined data set is a sister group relationship between Nyctibiidae and Caprimulgidae and between Apodidae/Hemiprocnidae and Trochilidae. The morphological data further support monophyly of the taxa (Upupidae + Bucerotidae) and (Aegothelidae + (Apodidae/Hemiprocnidae + Trochilidae)). Other placements in the three analyses received either no or only weak bootstrap support.


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Hou, Lianhai & Ericson, P.G.P. 2002. A middle Eocene shorebird from China. Condor, 104, pp. 896-899.

We describe a new species of shorebird, tentatively referred to the family Charadriidae, from the Huadian Formation (Middle Eocene) in Jilin Province, China. In general morphology the specimen closely matches that of an extant charadriid, and corresponds in size to the Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus). If correctly identified this is the oldest record of the Charadriidae. The Middle Eocene paleoenvironment of the Huadian region is thought to have resembled a subtropical swamp.


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Johansson, U.S., Irestedt, M., Parsons, T.J., & Ericson, P.G.P. Basal phylogenetic relationships within Tyrannoidea. 2002. Auk, 119, pp. 984-995.

The outlines of the phylogenetic relationships within the New World suboscine clade Tyrannoidea were investigated based on nucleotide sequence data from two nyclear genes (c-myc and RAG-1) and one mitochondrial gene (cytochrome b), totaling over 2400 basepairs. Representatives of the major tyrannoid lineages were sequenced, including Pachyramphus, Schiffornis, Tityra, and Oxyruncus. The data set with the three genes combined were analyzed both under the parsimony and maximum likelihood criteria, and under different character weighting schemes. The analyses resulted in similar topologies that differed only in poorly supported nodes. The three manakins Pipra, Manacus, and Chiroxiphia, included in this study were found to be monophyletic, whereas Schiffornis, sometimes also considered to be a manakin, did not group with the manakins, but occurred with Pachyramphus and Tityra in the clade Tityrinae. The two clades Pipromorphinae and Tyranninae are also strongly supported in this analysis and appear as sistergroups, thus supporting the monophyly of the tyrant flycatcher assemblage. Phytotoma was placed with the only cotingid species included in this analysis, whereas the position of Oxyruncus was unresolved.


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Ericson, P.G.P., Christidis, L., Irestedt, M. & Norman, J.A. 2002. Systematic affinities of the lyrebirds (Passeriformes: Menura), with a novel classification of the major groups of passerine birds. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 25, pp. 53-62.

Phylogenetic relationships of the lyrebirds are investigated using DNA sequence data. The aligned data matrix consists of 4027 base pairs obtained from three nuclear genes (c-myc, RAG-1 and myoglobin intron II) and two mitochondrial genes (cytochrome b and ND2). Both maximum-likelihood and parsimony analyses show that the lyrebirds unambiguously belong to the oscine radiation, and that they are the sister taxon to all other oscines. The results do not support the suggestion based on DNA-DNA hybridization data (Sibley and Ahlquist, 1990) that the treecreepers and bowerbirds are part of the lyrebird clade. Nevertheless, treecreepers and bowerbirds are sister taxa to all other oscines (except the lyrebirds) and may constitute a monophyletic group, although bootstrap support values for this clade are low. A major disagreement between the present analysis and that based on DNA-DNA hybridization data is that the Corvida (sensu Sibley and Ahlquist, 1990) and Passerida are not reciprocally monophyletic, as we find the latter group be nested within the Corvida. Also, the superfamilies Meliphagoidea and Corvoidea sensu Sibley and Ahlquist (1990), are not recovered as monophyletic in the present study.
Within the oscine radiation, all taxa belonging to the earliest splits are confined to the Australo-Papuan region. This suggests strongly that the origins and early radiation of the oscines occurred in the southern supercontinent Gondwana. A new classification of the major groups of passerines is presented following from the results presented in the present study, as well as those published recently on analyses of sequence data from the nuclear c-myc and RAG-1 genes (Irestedt et al., 2001; Ericson et al., 2002).


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

Based on their highly specialized "tracheophone" syrinx, the avian families Furnariidae (ovenbirds), Dendrocolaptidae (woodcreepers), Formicariidae (ground antbirds), Thamnophilidae (typical antbirds), Rhinocryptidae (tapaculos) and Conopophagidae (gnateaters) have long been recognized to constitute a monophyletic group of suboscine passerines. However, the monophyly of these families have been contested, and their interrelationships are poorly understood, and this constrains the possibilities for interpreting adaptive tendencies in this very diverse group.
In this study we present a higher-level phylogeny and classification for the tracheophone birds based on phylogenetic analyses of sequence data obtained from 32 ingroup taxa. Both mitochondrial (cytochrome b) and nuclear genes (c-myc, RAG-1 and myoglobin) have been sequenced, and more than 3000 bp were subjected to parsimony and maximum-likelihood analyses. The phylogenetic signals in the mitochondrial and nuclear genes were compared and found to be very similar. Although the results from the analysis of the combined dataset (all genes, but with transitions at third codon positions in the cytochrome b excluded) partly corroborate previous phylogenetic hypotheses, several novel arrangements were also suggested. Especially interesting is the result that the genus Melanopareia represents a basal branch within the tracheophone group, positioned in the phylogenetic tree well away from the typical tapaculos with which it has been supposed to group. Other novel results include the observation that the ground antbirds are paraphyletic, and that Sclerurus is the sister taxon to an ovenbird-woodcreeper clade. Patterns of generic richness within each clade suggest that the early differentiation of feeble-winged forest groups took place south of the Amazon Basin, while the more recent diversification was near the equator and (in tapaculos and ovenbirds) in the south of the continent.


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Ericson, P.G.P., Christidis, L., Cooper, A., Irestedt, M., Jackson, J., Johansson, U.S. & Norman, J.A. 2002. A Gondwanan origin of passerine birds supported by DNA sequences of the endemic New Zealand wrens. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Ser. B., 269, pp. 235-241

Zoogeographic, palaeontological and biochemical data support a southern hemisphere origin for passerine birds, while accumulating molecular data suggests that most extant avian orders originated in the mid-late Cretaceous. We obtained DNA sequence data from the nuclear c-myc and RAG-1 genes of the major passerine groups and demonstrate that the endemic New Zealand wrens (Acanthisittidae) are the sister taxon to all other extant passerines, supporting a Gondwanan origin and early radiation of passerines. We hypothesise that the Acanthisittids were isolated when New Zealand split off from Gondwana ca. 82-85 Mya, suboscines in turn were derived from an ancestral lineage that inhabited western Gondwana, and that the ancestors of the oscines (songbirds) were subsequently isolated by the split of Australia from Antarctica. The later spread of passerines into the Northern Hemisphere reflects the northward migration of these former Gondwanan elements.


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Ericson, P.G.P., Parsons, T.J. & Johansson, U.S. 2001. Morphological and molecular support for non-monophyly of the Galloanserae. In: (Gauthier, J. and Gall, L.F. eds.) New Perspectives on the Origin and Evolution of Birds: Proceedings of the International Symposium in Honor of John H. Ostrom.. New Haven: Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University. pp.157-168.

This paper discusses morphological and molecular data bearing on the earliest evolution of the Neornithes. Phylogenetic analyses of basal neornithine groups frequently result in poorly resolved trees, most likely caused by rapid branching events in the Cretaceous and early Tertiary. Although data that efficiently resolve the earliest history of modern birds are few, a consensus opinion about their basal phylogeny have emerged in recent years. Two major splits within Neornithes are postulated. The first occurs when the palaeognathous birds branch off from the rest (the Neognathae), and the second when the Anseriformes and Galliformes split from all other neognaths. Morphological data presented by Livezey (1997) supporting this second dichotomy are combined with additional data from Ericson (1997) and re-analysed. In addition a new data set consisting of nucleotide sequences from the nuclear, single-copy gene c-myc is analysed separately and in combination with the morphological data. Neither analyses support the suggested anseriform-galliform relationship. Instead, the Anseriformes group with the Ciconiiformes, Phoenicopteriformes and Charadriiformes, i.e. a clade of wading birds.


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Irestedt, M., Johansson, U.S., Parsons, T.J. & Ericson, P.G.P. 2001. Phylogeny of major lineages of suboscines (Passeriformes) analysed by nuclear DNA sequence data. Journal of Avian Biology, 32, pp.15-25.

Phylogenetic relationships among major groups of passeriform birds were studied by analyses of nucleotide sequence data from two nuclear genes, c-myc and RAG-1. The results corroborated both the monophyly of the order Passeriformes, and the major dichotomy into oscine and suboscine passerines previously suggested based on syringeal morphology and DNA-DNA hybridizations. The representatives of the Old World suboscines (families Eurylaimidae, Philepittidae and Pittidae) formed a monophyletic clade but familial relationships within this group was not resolved. The New World suboscines clustered into two clades. The first contained Furnarius (Furnariidae), Lepidocolaptes (Dendrocolaptidae), Thamnophilus (Formicariidae), and Rhinocrypta (Rhinocryptidae). Previously, the monophyly of this group has been inferred from their possession of a unique, "tracheophone" syrinx, and from DNA-DNA hybridization data. Traditionally the Conopophagidae is included in this group but the results from nuclear DNA data does not indicate this. However, weak nodal supports in this part of the tree makes the phylogenetic inferences tentative. The second clade of New World suboscines includes Gubernetes and Muscivora (Tyrannidae), Phytotoma (Phytotomidae), Tityra (Cotingidae) and Pipra (Pipridae). This group of families have been considered monophyletic based on morphology (although ambiguously) and DNA-DNA hybridization. The sister group relationship of Tityra and Phytotoma supports the previously supposed cotingid affinity of Phytotoma. Nuclear DNA data also unambiguously group the lyrebirds Menura with the oscines. Overall, the presented results from the analysis of nuclear DNA agree well with morphology and DNA-DNA hybridization data. The precise age of the divergencies studied herein are unknown but many of them might date back to the early Tertiary. The general agreement between data from the nuclear DNA and other sources, along with the fact that neither of the studied genes showed sign of saturation, indicate the great potential of these two nuclear genes to resolve very old divergencies in birds.


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Johansson, U.S., Parsons, T.J., Irestedt, M. & Ericson, P.G.P. 2001. Clades within the 'higher land birds', evaluated by nuclear DNA sequences. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 39, pp. 37-51.

In this study we investigated the phylogenetic relationships within the "higher land birds" (Anomalogonatae) by parsimony analysis of nucleotide DNA sequences obtained from the two nuclear, protein-coding genes, c-myc and RAG-1. Nuclear genes has not previously been used to address this phylogenetic question. The results include high jackknife support for a monophyletic Apodiformes (including the Trochilidae). This arrangement was further supported by the observation of a synapomorphic insertion of four amino acids in the c-myc gene in all apodiform taxa. Monophyly were also inferred for each of the two piciform groups Galbulae and Pici. Within Pici, the Capitonidae was found to be paraphyletic with the New World barbets more closely related to the Ramphastidae than to the Old World barbets. Another clade with high jackknife support consists of the Upupidae, Phoeniculidae and Bucerotidae. The families Momotidae and Todidae, and Coraciidae and Brachypteraciidae, respectively, also form well supported monophyletic clades. In agreement with certain morphological and biochemical studies, The monophyly of the Coraciiformes and the Piciformes, respectively, could not be corroborated.


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Ericson, P.G.P. 2000. Systematics, anatomy and paleoecology of the Paleogene family Presbyornithidae (Aves: Anseriformes). PaleoBios, 20, pp. 1-23.

Since the family Presbyornithidae was first described from the Eocene Green River Fm. of Utah, fossils referred to this genus have been collected from many Paleogene localities around the world. Fossils of this family are extraordinarily abundant and permit detailed studies of all parts of the skeleton. This paper describes the osteology of the Presbyornithidae based upon all material known from the New World. The family is revised and found to comprise four species placed in the two genera Presbyornis (three species) and Telmabates (one species). Presbyornis pervetus is by far the most common and widespread member of the family. The large size variation in the skeleton of P. pervetus is attributed to sexual dimorphism. Phylogenetic analyses of the Presbyornithidae have shown it to be a member of the order Anseriformes (ducks, geese, swans, and their allies). In addition to derived anseriform characters, the presbyornithid skeleton has many plesiomorphic features in common with other late Cretaceous and early Tertiary birds. Nearly all presbyornithids have been collected from lacustrine environments. Avian egg-shells associated with the fossils at certain localities suggest P. pervetus was a gregarious breeder along the shores of fresh water lakes. At several localities large numbers of presbyornithid fossils form mass-mortality layers in which the skeletons are disarticulated. Although the cause of death is unknown avian botulism or catastrophic volcanism may have contributed to the mass death of the birds.


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Ericson, P.G.P. 1999. New material of Juncitarsus (Phoenicopteriformes), with a guide for differentiating that genus from the Presbyornithidae (Anseriformes). In: (Olson, S.L. Ed.) Avian Paleontology at the Close of the 20th Century: Proceedings of the 4th International Meeting of the Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution, Washington, D.C., 4-7 June 1996. Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology, 89, pp. 245-251.

In many aspects, the postcranial skeleton of the early Tertiary Juncitarsus (Phoenicopteridae), is very similar to that of Presbyornis and Telmabates (Presbyornithidae). The phylogenetic positions of the two families, indicates that these similarities are due to the retention of morphologies possessed by their most recent ancestor. In this paper it is shown how finds of isolated skeletal elements of either genus can be correctly identified.


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Ericson, P.G.P. 1997. Swedish records of the eastern Palearctic Hoopoe subspecies Upupa epops saturata. Bulletin of the British Ornithologist's Club, 117, pp. 19-26.

The occurrence of Hoopoes of the subspecies Upupa epops saturata in Sweden is documented by a quantitative analysis of the mantle and breast colours measured by a spectrometer. This subspecies is characterized by being very dark and inhabits the north-eastern parts of Palearctic. It has not previously been reported from Europe. Hoopoes of the subspecies U. e. saturata are typically observed in Sweden in the autumn and only a few spring finds, possibly of wintering individuals, exist.


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Ericson, P.G.P. 1997. Systematic relationships of the Paleogene family Presbyornithidae (Aves: Anseriformes). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 121, pp. 429-483.

The early Tertiary (Paleocene and Eocene) family Presbyornithidae is one of the most completely known group of fossil birds. Essentially all parts of the skeleton are represented in the fossil record, allowing a thorough analysis of the phylogenetic position of the family. 42 families of nonpasserine birds representing the orders Ciconiiformes, Anseriformes, Galliformes, Gruiformes and Charadriiformes, were included in a cladistic analysis of 71 skeletal characters. The previously suggested anseriform affinity of the Presbyornithidae was confirmed. Furthermore, the family proved to be closer to the Anatidae than to the Anhimidae or Anseranatidae. The many postcranial similarities with certain charadriiform birds as the Burhinidae, obviously are plesiomorphies. By this observation, a better understanding of character evolution in nonpasserine skeletal morphology is gained. The often suggested close relationship of anseriform and galliform birds is not confirmed by osteology. Instead, the Anseriformes and the Phoenicopteridae form a monophyletic clade that is the sister to the remaining ciconiiform birds. This result renders the Ciconiiformes sensu Wetmore (1960) polyphyletic.


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Ericson, P.G.P. & Amarilla, L.A. 1997. First observations and new distributional data for birds in Paraguay. Bulletin of the British Ornithologist's Club, 117, pp. 60-67.

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Ericson, P.G.P. & Hernández Carrasquilla F. 1997. Subspecific affinity of Prehistoric Baltic cormorants (Aves: Phalacrocoracidae). Ardea, 85, pp. 1-7.

Cormorants of the subspecies Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis breed in large numbers in the Baltic Sea. They migrate to the Mediterranean region to winter and are then replaced in the Baltic by wintering individuals of the Norwegian population of the nominate subspecies carbo. Cormorants bred in the Baltic during Prehistoric times too, but as evident from a comparison of skeletal measurements in present-day and Prehistoric Cormorants, these individuals belonged to the nominate subspecies carbo. The Swedish subfossil record of the Cormorants available for study, does not include any remains small enough to suggest the presence of sinensis. Precisely when the subspecies sinensis immigrated into the Baltic is unknown, but it must have occurred sometime between 1500 and 1800 AD.


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Ericson, P.G.P., Tyrberg, T., Kjellberg, A.S., Jonsson, L. & Ullén, I. 1997. The earliest record of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) in northern Europe. Journal of Archaeological Science, 24, pp. 183-191.

Remains of the House Sparrow Passer domesticus recovered from a late Bronze Age (1200 - 800 BC) settlement in central Sweden are described. The House Sparrow is conspicuously rare in prehistoric Europe, and this record constitutes the earliest from the northern part. The find predates the introduction of Domestic Fowl Gallus gallus to Sweden, a species with which the House Sparrow has been assumed to be spread simultaneously. Instead, it is here suggested that House Sparrows most likely spread over Europe along with the Horse Equus caballus.


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Eames, J. & Ericson, P.G.P. 1996. The Björkegren expeditions to French Indochina: A collection of birds from Vietnam and Cambodia. Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society, 44, pp. 75-111.

Details are given of a collection of birds made during 1935 and 1938/39 in Cambodia and Vietnam by the Swedish ornithologist Bertil Björkegren. The collecting localities, together with dates and sex, are provided for all the specimens where available. In addition, notes made by Björkegren are included for selected species. Most notably, Björkegren collected the type and paratypes of the Grey-crowned Crocias Crocias langbianis. Most of the collection was made at Sa Pa in north-west Vietnam and in the western highlands in southern Vietnam. The collection is retained in the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm.


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Ericson, P.G.P. 1996. The skeletal evidence for a sister-group relationship of anseriform and galliform birds - a critical evaluation. Journal of Avian Biology, 27, pp.195-202.

The osteological basis for the proposed close phylogenetical relationship of anseriform and galliform birds is evaluated and found to be very weak. Out of eleven postulated synapomorphies in cranial morphology (Cracraft 1988), three must be excluded since they express variation that is already covered by any of the other eleven characters. Another six of the postulated synapomorhies either cannot be verified to occur in most anseriforms and galliforms, or have a wide distribution outside this group. A re-analysis of the combined morphological and biochemical data set of Cracraft and Mindell (1989) with the questionable osteological characters excluded, does not corroborate an anseriform-galliform sister-group relationship, but leaves the Neognathae unresolved.


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