A morphological test of the monophyly of the cardueline finches (Aves: Fringillidae, Carduelinae)

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Biology | Evolution | Ornithology


Monophyly of the cardueline finches (Aves: Fringillidae, Carduelinae), an assemblage of 119 species of seed-eating songbirds, has not yet been rigorously tested. To test the hypothesis of cardueline monophyly I examined 37 taxa, among them 1 or 2 representatives from 16 of the 19 cardueline-finch genera as well as 4 Hawaiian honeycreepers. Each taxon was scored for 225 morphological characters, 148 from the skeleton and 77 from the integument. Cladistic analysis of these data found the carduelines to be monophyletic, so long as the honeycreeper Telespiza cantans is considered to be cardueline; as for the other honeycreepers, they form a clade but do not group with either Telespiza or the carduelines. Both cardueline monophyly and the nonmonophyly of honeycreepers have comparatively strong support, with support for cardueline monophyly coming primarily from evolutionary modifications to the head skeleton.


Contact the author at pchu@csbsju.edu to receive a copy of this article.