Molecular systematics and evolution of the Synallaxis ruficapilla complex (Aves: Furnariidae) in the Atlantic Forest

The Neotropical Synallaxis ruficapilla complex is endemic to the Atlantic Forest and is comprised of three species: S. ruficapilla, S. whitneyi, and S. infuscata. This group is closely related to the Synallaxis moesta complex that occurs in the Andes, Tepuis, and Guianan shield. Here we used mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences to infer the phylogeny and the time of diversification of the S. ruficapilla and S. moesta complexes. We also included samples of an undescribed population of Synallaxis that resembles other populations of the S. ruficapilla complex. Our results showed that different geographical lineages within the S. ruficapilla complex are reciprocally monophyletic, but the northern form (S. infuscata) grouped with an Andean taxon. This suggests that at least two lineages of this group independently colonized the Atlantic Forest. Specimens of the undescribed population formed a monophyletic clade with deep divergence. Estimated diversification dates were within the late Pliocene to Pleistocene (2.750.16 million of years ago). This suggests that at this time there was a higher connectivity between habitats in the rugged landscapes of the circum-Amazonian bioregions. The observed Pleistocene diversification within the Atlantic Forest is congruent in space and time with studies of other co-distributed organisms, and may be associated with climate changes and tectonic activity during this period.