Evolution

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Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

View Piciformes Tree

There has been some controversy about whether jacamars (Galbulidae) and puffbirds (Bucconidae) really belong to Piciformes, and they have sometimes been given a separate order, Galbuliformes. However, recent molecular and morphological analyses have confirmed the traditional arrangement (Johansson and Ericson 2003, Mayr et al. 2003, Cracraft et al. 2004).

The barbets (Capitonidae) are not monophyletic, because the toucans (Ramphastidae) lie within them (Sibley and Ahlquist 1990, Lanyon and Hall 1994, Barker and Lanyon 2000, Moyle 2004). Toucans are merely a group of odd, large-billed barbets. This could be handled taxonomically in several ways. The simplest would be to eliminate the family Ramphastidae, submerging it within Capitonidae. But if Ramphastidae is to be maintained, Capitonidae must be dismembered into at least three, perhaps four, separate families. The New World barbets would retain the name Capitonidae. African barbets would become Lybiidae, and Asian barbets would become Megalaimidae, the solution adopted by Sibley and Monroe (1990). Yet another family might be required for the genus Semnornis, the aptly named toucan barbets, which may be more closely related to toucans than to other New World barbets (and this is the reason New World barbets are shown as being possibly non-monophyletic), or Semnornis could be moved inside Ramphastidae.

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