The avian family Aegothelidae (Owlet-nightjars) comprises nine extant species and one extinct species, all of which are currently classified in a single genus, Aegotheles. Owlet-nightjars are secretive nocturnal birds of the South Pacific. They are relatively poorly studied and some species are known from only a few specimens. Furthermore, their confusing morphological variation has made it difficult to cluster existing specimens unambiguously into hierarchical taxonomic units. Here we sample all extant owlet-nightjar species and all but three currently recognized subspecies. We use DNA extracted primarily from museum specimens to obtain mitochondrial gene sequences and construct a molecular phylogeny. Our phylogeny suggests that most species are reciprocally monophyletic, however A. albertisi appears paraphyletic. Our data also suggest splitting A. bennettii into two species and splitting A. insignis and A. tatei as suggested in another recent paper. ?? 2003 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.
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Phylogeny of the owlet-nightjars (Aves: Aegothelidae) based on mitochondrial DNA sequence