Tyranni: Suboscines

Passeri: Oscines


Muscicapoidea and allies

The 46 Orders














Malaconotoidea Swainson, 1824

Malaconotoidea tree
Click for Malaconotoidea
genus tree

There is a fair amount of consensus between Aggerbeck et al. (2014), Moyle et al. (2016), and Jønsson et al. (2016) concerning the Malaconotoidea. The only real issue concerns the posistion of the basal groups—boatbills (Machaerirhynchidae), butcherbirds (Artamidae), and mottled berryhunter (Rhagologidae), where there is total disagreement. Aggerbeck et al. put the boatbills sister to Aegithinidae--Vangidae clade, with the mottled berryhunter sister to the butcherbirds. Jønsson et al. (2016) and Fuchs et al. (2012b) have a basal group consisting of the boatbills, mottled berryhunter, and butcherbirds. Finally, Moyle et al. (2016) have two solutions: the one followed here, and one where the butcherbirds are basal, followed by the boatbills, the berryhunter, and the rest.

It's interesting to compare the osteological analysis of Manegold (2008) with Fuchs et al. (2012b), or to any of the other molecular analysis. It's something to keep in mind when looking at even the best hypothetical trees for fossil organisms.

It's also interesting that many of the shrike-like birds—helmet-shrikes, bush-shrikes, wood-shrikes, vanga-shrikes, butcherbirds—are included in Malaconotoidea, but the true shrikes are in Corvoidea.

The Aegithinidae--Vangidae clade represent a real breakout from Australo-Papua. The Aegithinidae range to India, the Malaconotidae and Platysteiridae are African, and the Vangidae are concentrated in Madagascar with basal groups in Africa and the Orient.

Machaerirhynchidae: Boatbills Schodde & Mason, 1999

1 genus, 2 species HBW-14

Jønsson et al. (2016) place this small Australo-Papuan group sister to the Artamidae.

Artamidae: Woodswallows, Butcherbirds Hartlaub, 1877

4 genera, 25 species HBW-14

This family includes the Australo-Papuan Cracticinae, and the more widespread Artaminae (woodswallows) that range from India to Australasia.

I now follow Christidis and Boles (2008) by including the woodswallows, butcherbirds, and currawongs in the same family. There is an increasing body of genetic evidence that they form a clade. Baker et al. (2004) and Moyle et al. (2004b) placed them in the same clade. The extra structure is handled by ranking the woodswallows (Artaminae), and butcherbirds and currawongs (Cracticinae) as subfamilies.

Peltops seems to be closer to the butcherbirds than the woodswallows (Jønsson et al., 2010c, 2011b; Fuchs et al., 2012b, Kearns et al., 2013), so it is included in Cracticinae. Kearns et al. (2013) found that the actual species boundaries within Peltops do not seem to match current thinking. There are two species, but the division is not as expected.

The genus Gymnorhina (Australian Magpie) has been merged with Cracticus and Strepera has been reordered based on Kearns et al. (2013). The Black Butcherbird has been split into New Guinea Black-Butcherbird, Cracticus quoyi, and Australian Black-Butcherbird, Cracticus spaldingi. Kearns et al. (2011) found substantial genetic distance between these allopatric groups of taxa.

The gray (a.k.a. white-throated) Butcherbird group continues to be controversial. Kearns et al. (2013) found little genetic distance between them and relationships that did not match the traditional allopatric species in the group. Recognition of the Silver-backed Butcherbird, Cracticus argenteus, has always been controversial, but the Black-backed Butcherbird, Cracticus mentalis, has been considered a separate species. Kearns et al. (2013) found that some argenteus grouped with mentalis and some grouped with torquatus. All were genetically close, with a common ancestor probably about 200,000 years ago. Because of this I, had lumped them with the Gray Butcherbird, Cracticus torquatus. However, that is not the end of the story. Kearns et al. (2014) increased sampling of both individuals and nuclear genes. They found significant conflict between the mitochondrial and nuclear dna. However, the species tree made sense, and current geneflow is modest, so I have returned to treating them as three species.

Artaminae: Woodswallows Hartlaub, 1877

Cracticinae: Butcherbirds & allies Chenu & des Murs, 1853 (1836)

Rhagologidae: Mottled Berryhunter Schodde and Christidis, 2014

1 genus, 1 species Not HBW Family (HBW-12:411)

This family includes one species, the Papuan endemic Mottled Berryhunter (formerly Mottled Whistler). Jønsson et al. (2016) recommended treating it as a separate family. Aggerbeck et al. (2014) considered it sister to Artamidae, with the boatbills closer to the Aegithinidae/Vangidae clade. Support for any particular position of the Mottled Berryhunter and the boatbills is weak in all studies.

Aegithinidae: Ioras G.R. Gray, 1869

1 genus, 4 species HBW-10

The ioras range from India to Borneo.

Pityriaseidae: Bristlehead Mayr & Amadon, 1951

1 genus, 1 species HBW-14

Moyle et al. (2006b) was the first to find that the Bornean Bristlehead belonged to the Malaconotoidea. This arrangement with the Bristlehead sister to the Malaconotidae family is based on Fuchs et al. (2012b) and also supported by Aggerbeck et al. (2014) and Jønsson et al. (2016). The last recommend including it in Malaconotidae.

Malaconotidae: Bush-shrikes, Puffbacks Swainson, 1824

8 genera, 49 species HBW-14

The overall structure of Malaconotidae follows Fuchs et al. (2012b). Laniarius has been reordered using Nguembock et al. (2008c). Based on their work, the Black Boubou, Laniarius nigerrimus (erlangeri is a junior synonym), and East Coast Boubou, Laniarius sublacteus, have been split from Tropical Boubou, Laniarius aethiopicus. They also found that the Bulo Burti Boubou, Laniarius liberatus, was a color morph of the Black Boubou, Laniarius nigerrimus. Finally, Tropical Boubou, Laniarius aethiopicus, is split into Tropical Boubou, Laniarius major, and Ethiopian Boubou, Laniarius aethiopicus. I would expect more changes for this genus in the future.

The current consensus seems to be that the Four-colored Bushshrike, Telophorus quadricolor, is better treated as a subspecies of the Gorgeous Bushshrike, Telophorus viridis. E.g., Dowsett, R.J., and F. Dowsett-Lemaire (1993), H&M-4 (Dickinson and Christidis, 2014), HBW Alive, Clements 6,9, IOC-5.3.

Following the recommendations of Fuchs et al. (2004), Rhodophoneus has been submerged in Telophorus, as have the undergrowth species of Chlorophoneus (dohertyi and viridis).

Platysteiridae: Wattle-eyes, Batises Sundevall, 1872

5 genera, 31 species HBW-11

I had earlier followed the recommendation of Njabo et al. (2008) and merged Dyaphorophyia into Platysteira. However, further analysis by Fuchs et al. (2012b) revealed that things are not quite so simple. Their results call into question whether Batis itself is monophyletic. They found four deep clades separated by very short internodes. Two parts of Batis, the restricted Dyaphorophyia used here, and Platysteira (which includes part of the former Dyaphorophyia). Although their species tree says Batis is not monophyletic, I find that hard to believe and leave Batis as a single genus.

The overall order here is based on Njabo et al. (2008), Fuchs et al. (2012b), and Jønsson et al. (2016) together with a lot of guesswork. It is clear that some of the putative Batis superspecies involve birds that are not closely related. What is not clear is how to put them back together. Batises are very confusing! Nine species of Batis have been placed in the temporary genus "Batis".

The Western Black-headed Batis has been moved from Batis to Lanioturdus, as Lanioturdus erlangeri, based on Jønsson et al. (2016).

Njabo et al. (2008) found that the West African Wattle-eye, Platysteira hormophora, formerly considered a subspecies of Chestnut Wattle-eye, Platysteira castanea, is only distantly related to it.

Vangidae: Vangas Swainson, 1831

21 genera, 39 species HBW-14

Vangidae tree Although H&M 4 (Dickinson and Christidis, 2014) includes the helmetshrikes (Prionopidae) and woodshrikes, shrike-flycatchers, and Flycatcher-shrikes (Tephrodornithdae) in Vangidae. IOC 5.4 continues following a more traditional treatment of this group. They use three families: Prionopidae (Helmetshrikes), Tephrodornithdae (Woodshrikes and allies), and Vangidae, with Vangidae separated from the others. They also place Megabyas and Bias in Platysteiridae. Some years ago, I had described traditional arrangements as “hard to justify on molecular grounds”. But now, thanks to Reddy et al. (2012), Jønsson et al. (2012b, 2016), and Fuchs et al. (2012b), I can say it's just wrong.

The four multi-gene analyses provide strong evidence that Vangidae, as constituted here, is monophyletic. While there remains a possibility that another vanga or two may be hiding in some other family, all the known suspects have been tested. The current arrangement of genera is based on Reddy et al. (2012) and the arrangement within some of the genera follows Jønsson et al. (2012b).

There remains uncertainty about where Philentoma fits. Jønsson et al. (2016) consider it the basal group, rather than sister to the subfamily Vanginae. Reddy et al. (2012) tried various alternative analyses, sometimes finding Philentoma in a different position.

Previously, the papers by Yamagishi et al. (2001), Fuchs et al. (2004, 2006b, 2007a), Moyle et al. (2006b), and Johansson et al. (2008a) help clarify the relation between the vangas (Vangidae), the wattle-eyes and batises (Platysteiridae), and the bush-shrikes (Malaconotidae).

Some genera have moved around, mostly in or out of Vangidae. Compared to the treatment of Dickinson et al. (2003), Vangidae gained Prionops from Malaconotidae, Megabyas and Bias from Platysteiridae, Hemipus from Campephagidae, and the uncertainly placed Tephrodornis and Philentoma. Stepping back a couple of years: Tylas was sometimes considered a bulbul (although correctly identified as a vanga by Beecher, 1953), Newtonia was thought to be a Sylviioid or Muscicapoid, and Hypositta was considered a Parid or Sittid. For those interested in examing an old taxonomy of the Passerida, I recommend taking a look at the diagram on page 324 of Beecher. Johansson et al. (2008a) show convincingly that Mystacornis is a vangid (Crossley's Vanga, formerly Crossley's Babbler).

Prionopinae: Helmetshrikes Bonaparte, 1853

Tephrodornithinae: Woodshrikes, Shrike-flycatchers Informal

Some internet sources claim that Tephrodornithidae is due to Moyle et al. (2006b). Although they did notice the clade, they did not use the term Tephrodornithidae, and it remains an informal name.

Philentominae: Philentomas Informal

Although the Philentomas could be included in Vanginae, it makes sense to separate these southeast Asian species from the Madagascan vangas.

Vanginae: Vangas Swainson, 1831

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