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Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 55(2)

A new endemic family of New Zealand passerine birds: adding heat to a biodiversity hotspot

Amy Driskell A, Les Christidis B C, B. J. Gill D G, Walter E. Boles B, F. Keith Barker E, N. W. Longmore F

A Laboratories of Analytical Biology, National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC, USA.
B Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.
C Department of Genetics, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.
D Auckland War Memorial Museum, Private Bag 92018, Auckland, New Zealand.
E Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN 55108, USA.
F Museum Victoria, Melbourne, Vic. 3001, Australia.
G Corresponding author. Email: bgill@aucklandmuseum.com
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The results of phylogenetic analysis of two molecular datasets sampling all three endemic New Zealand ‘honeyeaters’ (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae, Anthornis melanura and Notiomystis cincta) are reported. The undisputed relatedness of the first two species to other honeyeaters (Meliphagidae), and a close relationship between them, are demonstrated. However, our results confirm that Notiomystis is not a honeyeater, but is instead most closely related to the Callaeidae (New Zealand wattlebirds) represented by Philesturnus carunculatus in our study. An estimated divergence time for Notiomystis and Philesturnus of 33.8 mya (Oligocene) suggests a very long evolutionary history of this clade in New Zealand. As a taxonomic interpretation of these data we place Notiomystis in a new family of its own which takes the name Notiomystidae. We expect this new phylogenetic and taxonomic information to assist policy decisions for the conservation of this rare bird.

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