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Research article2018Peer reviewed

Comprehensive phylogeny of the laughingthrushes and allies (Aves, Leiothrichidae) and a proposal for a revised taxonomy

Cibois, Alice; Gelang, Magnus; Alstrom, Per; Pasquet, Eric; Fjeldsa, Jon; Ericson, Per G. P.; Olsson, Urban


DNA phylogenies have gradually shed light on the phylogenetic relationships of the large babbler group. We focus in this study on the family Leiothrichidae (laughingthrushes and song babblers), which represents the largest clade of babblers in terms of species diversity. Our phylogeny includes all genera and 82% of the recognized species, using mitochondrial and nuclear loci. The sister group to Leiothrichidae is composed of the Pellorneidae (jungle babblers) plus the genus Alcippe. Within Leiothrichidae, four strongly supported primary clades (A-D) are recovered. Clade A includes Grammatoptila, Laniellus and Cutia. Clade B includes a large group of laughingthrushes, all of them classified in Trochalopteron. In Clade C, the two laughingthrushes endemic to southern India, T.fairbanki and T.cachinnans, which have recently been proposed to be placed in the newly erected genus Montecincla, form a sister clade to the group comprising the song babblers (Lioptila, Leiothrix, Heterophasia, Minla, Liocichla, Actinodura, Chrysominla, Siva, and Sibia). Clade D includes the African babblers (Turdoides, Phyllanthus, Kupeornis), Asian relatives (Argya, Acanthoptila, Chatarrhaea) and all remaining laughingthrushes (Garrulax). The time estimates suggest that the early diversification of the Leiothrichidae occurred in the mid-Miocene, a period that corresponds to the diversification of many passerine groups in Asia. A revised taxonomic classification of the family is proposed in the light of these results.


babblers; multilocus analysis; phylogeny; taxonomy

Published in

Zoologica Scripta
2018, Volume: 47, number: 4, pages: 428-440
Publisher: WILEY

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Biological Systematics

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