New species are sometimes known to arise as a consequence of the dispersal and establishment of populations in new areas. It has nevertheless been difficult to demonstrate an empirical link between rates of dispersal and diversification, partly because dispersal abilities are challenging to quantify. Here, using wing morphology as a proxy for dispersal ability, we assess this relationship among the global radiation of corvoid birds. We found that species distributions are associated with wing shape. Widespread species (occurring on both islands and continents), and those that are migratory, exhibit wing morphologies better adapted to long-distance flight compared with sedentary continental or insular forms. Habitat preferences also strongly predict wing form, with species that occur in canopies and/or areas of sparse vegetation possessing dispersive morphologies. By contrast, we found no significant differences in diversification rates among either the migratory or habitat classifications, but species distributed in island settings diversify at higher rates than those found on continents. This latter finding may reflect the elevated dispersal capabilities of widespread taxa, facilitating the radiation of these lineages across insular areas. However, as the correlations between wing morphology and diversification rates were consistently weak throughout our dataset, this suggests that historical patterns of diversification are not particularly well reflected by present-day wing morphology.
- Received August 31, 2016.
- Accepted November 3, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
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