Life history evolution in Old World flycatchers

An article that I co-authored with my good friend and colleague, Sahas Barve, has recently been accepted for publication in the journal Ibis. You can access the early view version of the paper here: If you do not have access to the pdf, email me or Sahas and we would be happy to send along a pdf.

In this paper, we explore evolutionary links among various life history traits, including migration, nesting type, clutch size, and other life-history traits in a speciose radiation of songbirds, the Old World flycatchers. By gathering genetic data generated from a plethora of previous studies on this group, we constructed a time-calibrated phylogeny for 252 species of Old World flycatchers.


Phylogeny of 252 species of Old World flycatchers that we generated as to explore the evolution of life history traits in Barve and Mason (in press).

Using our phylogeny, we find that Old World flycatchers that nest in cavities tend to have larger maximum clutch sizes and are generally larger than open-nesting species. We also find that changes in migratory behavior occur far more often in cavity-nesting lineages than open-nesting lineages, which suggests that the type of nest a species uses could play an important role in shaping large-scale patterns of variation in migration among related species.


Lineages that use cavity nests exhibit far more changes in migratory behavior than lineages that use open nests.

It was really enjoyable to explore these evolutionary patterns in a group of birds that was previously unfamiliar to me. Look out for the formatted version once everything has gone through the proofing process!