Breeding system evolution influenced the geographic expansion and diversification of the core Corvoidea (Aves: Passeriformes) of the core Corvoidea (Aves: Passeriformes)

Birds vary greatly in their life-history strategies, including their breeding systems, which range from brood parasitism to a system with multiple nonbreeding helpers at the nest. By far the most common arrangement, however, is where both parents participate in raising the young. The traits associated with parental care have been suggested to affect dispersal propensity and lineage diversification, but to date tests of this potential relationship at broad temporal and spatial scales have been limited. Here, using data from a globally distributed group of corvoid birds in concordance with state-dependent speciation and extinction models, we suggest that pair breeding is associated with elevated speciation rates. Estimates of transition between breeding systems imply that cooperative lineages frequently evolve biparental care, whereas pair breeders rarely become cooperative. We further highlight that these groups have differences in their spatial distributions, with pair breeders overrepresented on islands, and cooperative breeders mainly found on continents. Finally, we find that speciation rates appear to be significantly higher on islands compared to continents. These results imply that the transition from cooperative breeding to pair breeding was likely a significant contributing factor facilitating dispersal across tropical archipelagos, and subsequent world-wide phylogenetic expansion among the core Corvoidea.