Convergent evolution of 'creepers' in the Hawaiian honeycreeper radiation

Biology Letters
Dawn M RedingR C Fleischer


Natural selection plays a fundamental role in the ecological theory of adaptive radiation. A prediction of this theory is the convergent evolution of traits in lineages experiencing similar environments. The Hawaiian honeycreepers are a spectacular example of adaptive radiation and may demonstrate convergence, but uncertainty about phylogenetic relationships within the group has made it difficult to assess such evolutionary patterns. We examine the phylogenetic relationships of the Hawaii creeper (Oreomystis mana), a bird that in a suite of morphological, ecological and behavioural traits closely resembles the Kauai creeper (Oreomystis bairdi), but whose mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and osteology suggest a relationship with the amakihis (Hemignathus in part) and akepas (Loxops). We analysed nuclear DNA sequence data from 11 relevant honeycreeper taxa and one outgroup to test whether the character contradiction results from historical hybridization and mtDNA introgression, or convergent evolution. We found no evidence of past hybridization, a phenomenon that remains undocumented in Hawaiian honeycreepers, and confirmed mtDNA and osteological evidence that the Hawaii creeper is most closely related to the amakihis and akepas. Thus, ...Continue Reading


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Related Concepts

DNA, Mitochondrial
Biological Evolution
Selection, Genetic
Sequence Determinations, DNA
DNA, Mitochondrial
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DNA Sequence

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