Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 148, Issue 4, pp 471–476 | Cite as

On the phylogenetic position of the scrub-birds (Passeriformes: Menurae: Atrichornithidae) of Australia

  • R. Terry ChesserEmail author
  • José ten Have
Original Article


Evolutionary relationships of the scrub-birds Atrichornis were investigated using complete sequences of the recombination-activating gene RAG-1 and the proto-oncogene c-mos for two individuals of the noisy scrub-bird Atrichornis clamosus. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that Atrichornis was sister to the genus Menura (the lyrebirds) and that these two genera (the Menurae) were sister to the rest of the oscine passerines. A sister relationship between Atrichornis and Menura supports the traditional view, based on morphology and DNA hybridization, that these taxa are closely related. Similarly, a sister relationship with the remaining oscine passerines agrees with the morphological distinctiveness of Atrichornis and Menura, although this result contradicts conclusions based on DNA hybridization studies. Although Atrichornis is very well known morphologically, previous conclusions regarding its relationships were hampered by a lack of comparative knowledge of other passerines, making concurrence of the sequence data of particular significance.


Atrichornis Menurae Passeriformes Phylogenetics Scrub-birds 



We thank Sarah Comer of CALM (Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia) for graciously providing blood samples of Atrichornis clamosus, and we thank Ian Mason for initially contacting Sarah about obtaining samples for the Australian National Wildlife Collection. We are grateful to the Myer Foundation for generous financial support and to Richard Zusi and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian National Wildlife CollectionCSIRO Sustainable EcosystemsCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research CenterNational Museum of Natural HistoryWashington D.C.USA

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