Molecular data delineate four genera of "Thryothorus" wrens

Nigel I. Mann, F. Keith Barker, Jeff A. Graves, Kimberly A. Dingess-Mann, Peter J.B. Slater

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40 Scopus citations


Wrens of the genus Thryothorus comprise over a third of the species diversity in the family Troglodytidae. In addition to this species diversity, these wrens vary in a number of behavioral characteristics, in particular in the presence and structure of vocal duets, which makes them an interesting target for comparative evolutionary ecological and behavioral study. However, no phylogenetic hypothesis for this group-which would provide a sound basis for comparative analysis-is currently available. While previous molecular phylogenetic work established conclusively that the type of this genus, Thryothorus ludovicianus (Latham), was not part of a monophyletic group with other Thryothorus, the exact limits of the genus could not be established due to limited taxon sampling. Here, we present molecular data from all but four currently recognized species of Thryothorus. These data confirm that Thryothorus is paraphyletic, and that the type T. ludovicianus does not form a monophyletic group with any other member of the genus. Based on analyses of our data, we resurrect two previously recognized wren genera, Pheugopedius and Thryophilus, and erect a new genus-Cantorchilus-to house the remaining ex-Thryothorus species. Our hypothesis of relationships will provide a firm basis for future behavioral and morphological analyses of these species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)750-759
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the Leverhulme Trust (Grant #F/00268/E). We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of various national agencies that provided permits for sample collection, including: the Departamento de Evaluacion de Recursos Biologicos, Costa Rica; the Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente, Panamá; the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and Ministerio del Ambiente, Republica del Ecuador; and the Universidad Naional Autónoma de Mexico and Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), México. We thank Shannon Hackett and Dave Willard (Field Museum), and A. Townsend Peterson and Mark Robbins (University of Kansas Natural History Museum) for loans of specimens in their care. For discussion of taxonomic issues, we thank J.V. Remsen (LSU Museum of Natural Science) and D. Stotz (Field Museum). We thank Tanya Sneddon for assistance with labwork at St. Andrews, and Dr. Annette Pahlich for assistance in translating Cabanis’ description of Pheugopedius . Analyses were conducted using resources of the Computational Genetics Laboratory, part of the University of Minnesota’s Supercomputing Institute.


  • Cytochrome b
  • Duetting
  • Intron
  • β-Fibrinogen


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