Phylogenetic relationships of the Zigzag Heron (Zebrilus undulatus) and white-crested Bittern (Tigriornis leucolophus) estimated by DNA-DNA hybridization

Zigzag Heron (Zebrilus undulatus) Science Article 2


Recently we, acquired DNA of two rare species of heron, the Neotropical Zigzag Heron (Zebrilus undulatus) and the African White-crested Bittern (Tigriornis le colophus). To estimate their phylogenetic relationships to other herons, we compared these species with representatives of the major heron clades using DNA-DNA hybridization. Even though the Zigzag Heron resembles a tiger-heron in its barred plumage and forest habitat, it is most closely related to bitterns.The White-crested Bittern is monophyletic with the New World tiger-herons (Tigrisoma) and, thus, is better termed the White-crested Tiger-Heron. These findings accord well with phylogenetic analyses based on osteology. The remaining uncertainties in higher-level heron phylogeny are principally: (1) the position and composition of some enigmatic genera (e.g. Gorsachius, Agamia, Pilherodius and Ardeola); and (2) the identification of the basal heron lineage, which appears to be either tiger-herons or the Boatbilled Heron (Cochlearius).

Frederick H. Sheldon, Kevin G. Mccracken and Keeley D. Stuebing, The Auk 112(3):672-679

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