Near-complete phylogeny and taxonomic revision of the world's babblers (Aves: Passeriformes)

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2019 Jan:130:346-356. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2018.10.010. Epub 2018 Oct 12.


The babblers are a diverse group of passerine birds comprising 452 species. The group was long regarded as a "scrap basket" in taxonomic classification schemes. Although several studies have assessed the phylogenetic relationships for subsets of babblers during the past two decades, a comprehensive phylogeny of this group has been lacking. In this study, we used five mitochondrial and seven nuclear loci to generate a dated phylogeny for babblers. This phylogeny includes 402 species (ca. 89% of the overall clade) from 75 genera (97%) and all five currently recognized families, providing a robust basis for taxonomic revision. Our phylogeny supports seven major clades and reveals several non-monophyletic genera. Divergence time estimates indicate that the seven major clades diverged around the same time (18-20 million years ago, Ma) in the early Miocene. We use the phylogeny in a consistent way to propose a new taxonomy, with seven families and 64 genera of babblers, and a new linear sequence of names.

Keywords: Babblers; Passeriformes; Phylogeny; Rogue taxa; Supertree; Taxonomy; Temporal banding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Passeriformes / classification*
  • Passeriformes / genetics
  • Phylogeny*
  • Time Factors


  • DNA, Mitochondrial