Phylogenetic relationships of the African bush-shrikes and helmet-shrikes (Passeriformes: Malaconotidae)
The African bush-shrikes and helmet-shrikes (Malaconotidae sensu [A Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, third ed., Helm Editions, London, 2003]) include 10 genera and 52 species of predatory passerine birds for which monophyly, sister-group, and inter-generic relationships are disputed. To resolve their relationships, we analyzed 2313 bp of sequence data obtained from two nuclear introns (myoglobin intron-2, β-fibrinogen intron-5) and a mitochondrial protein-coding gene (ND2) using parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian inference. A strongly supported clade that included representatives of the Malaconotidae, Platysteiridae, and Vangidae was found in all analyses. Three main groups emerged within this clade but relationships between these three groups were always poorly supported. The first group included the helmet-shrikes (Prionops), flycatcher-shrikes (Bias and Megabyas), and vangas (Cyanolanius and Pseudobias), currently placed in the families Malaconotidae, Platysteiridae, and Vangidae, respectively. The second group consisted of four Platysteiridae genera (Lanioturdus, Batis, Platysteira, and Dyaphorophyia), with the remaining Malaconotidae genera ('core malaconotids') forming the last group. Two main clades emerged within the 'core malaconotids,' with the position of the genus Nilaus being variable. The first clade included Malaconotus, Dryoscopus, Bocagia, and Tchagra and the second Chlorophoneus, Laniarius, Rhodophoneus, and Telophorus. Monophyly of the genus Chlorophoneus was never recovered, a result that is consistent with morphological data. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.