Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 85–105

Phylogenetic analyses of the diversity of moult strategies in Sylviidae in relation to migration


DOI: 10.1023/B:EVEC.0000017848.20735.8b

Cite this article as:
Hall, K.S.S. & Tullberg, B.S. Evolutionary Ecology (2004) 18: 85. doi:10.1023/B:EVEC.0000017848.20735.8b


Moult in birds is highly variable both within and among bird genera. The aim of the present study was to make an extended phylogenetic analysis of the diversity of moult strategies within Sylviidae in light of the recent phylogenies based on molecular data, and with the methodology of matched-pairs analysis. In the present study we analysed 141 sylviid taxa and, to improve character reconstruction, 22 outgroup taxa. The study could corroborate the earlier results that post-breeding moult is the ancestral state in Sylviidae. Migratory habits were found to be ancestral within Sylviidae but resident habits have evolved several times with a few reverse transitions back to migratory habits. Transitions in main moult strategy were significantly related to both migratory vs. resident habits and to migratory distance, giving support to the hypothesis that moult in the non-breeding season is related to migration as such and long-distance migration, respectively. Both resident and migratory taxa used minor alternative moult strategies besides the main moult strategy and such within-taxon flexibility might be a basal trait in Sylviidae. We investigated three variables that included minor strategies and found no relationship between these and migratory habits. However, two of these variables (the potential to interrupt moult and the occurrence of moult in both the post- and non-breeding seasons) were significantly related to migration distance. We conclude that migration patterns has some influence on the choice of moult strategy, and that flexibility in timing of moult is widespread within Sylviidae and might be a basal trait. We argue that such flexibility might be a prerequisite for changes in migratory strategies.


Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden