Document Type


Publication Date



© 2014 The Author(s). Phylogenetic niche conservatism (PNC) and convergence are contrasting evolutionary patterns that describe phenotypic similarity across independent lineages. Assessing whether and how adaptive processes give origin to these patterns represent a fundamental step toward understanding phenotypic evolution. Phylogenetic model-based approaches offer the opportunity not only to distinguish between PNC and convergence, but also to determine the extent that adaptive processes explain phenotypic similarity. The Myrmotherula complex in the Neotropical family Thamnophilidae is a polyphyletic group of sexually dimorphic small insectivorous forest birds that are relatively homogeneous in size and shape. Here, we integrate a comprehensive species-level molecular phylogeny of the Myrmotherula complex with morphometric and ecological data within a comparative framework to test whether phenotypic similarity is described by a pattern of PNC or convergence, and to identify evolutionary mechanisms underlying body size and shape evolution. We show that antwrens in the Myrmotherula complex represent distantly related clades that exhibit adaptive convergent evolution in body size and divergent evolution in body shape. Phenotypic similarity in the group is primarily driven by their tendency to converge toward smaller body sizes. Differences in body size and shape across lineages are associated to ecological and behavioral factors.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)


First Page


Last Page