New paper published – Müllerian mimicry in Pitohui

We investigated the evolutionary history of multiple members of a passerine mimicry ring in the poisonous Papuan pitohuis. Previous phylogenetic evidence indicated that the aposematic coloration shared by many, but not all, members of this genus is ancestral and has only been retained by members of the mimicry ring. By using a newly assembled genome and thousands of genomic DNA markers, we indicate that interspecies gene flow may be a more general mechanism in generating mimicry rings than hitherto appreciated.

—(A) Hooded pitohui, (B) northern variable pitohui, and (C) southern variable pitohui (left). Images provided by Katerina Sam (A and B) and Carlos Gonzalez Bocos (C).
—(A) Distribution of Pitohui dichrous, Pitohui kirhocephalus, and Pitohui uropygialis. Distribution maps were modified from the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The localities of our own field sampling and of museum specimens are depicted in black and red dots, respectively. (B) Phylogenomic analysis of a concatenated alignment of 5,795 genomic loci totaling 811,300 bp using RAxML, with nodal values indicating maximum likelihood bootstrap support for key nodes. Bird illustrations modified from del Hoyo et al. (2018).

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