On the origin of the Galápagos hawk: An examination of phenotypic differentiation and mitochondrial paraphyly

Joshua M. Hull, Wesley K. Savage, Jennifer L. Bollmer, Rebecca T. Kimball, Patricia G. Parker, Noah K. Whiteman, Holly B Ernest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Previous phylogenetic hypotheses suggest a sister group relationship between mainland and widespread Buteo swainsoni (Swainson's hawk) and the island archipelago taxon Buteo galapagoensis (Galápagos hawk). We further describe phylogenetic relationships of this clade using molecular data from the mitochondrial control region, and consider the role of niche expansion on phenotype using morphological data from B. galapagoensis, B. swainsoni, and related Buteo jamaicensis (red-tailed hawk). Among 52 unique Buteo haplotypes, phylogenetic analyses support a monophyletic B. galapagoensis clade within a clade of B. swainsoni haplotypes, rendering B. swainsoni paraphyletic with respect to B. galapagoensis. Mitochondrial paraphyly is likely a result of incomplete lineage sorting subsequent to a recent colonization event and exemplifies speciation of peripheral population isolates. Morphological comparisons indicate that metrics associated with prey capture differ significantly between B. galapagoensis and B. swainsoni, but are similar between B. galapagoensis and B. jamaicensis. These results suggest directional selection on B. galapagoensis morphology associated with feeding, possibly an outcome of decreased interspecific competition and change towards a more generalist diet shared by B. jamaicensis. In the B. galapagoensis lineage, our results suggest that genetic drift influences the neutral mitochondrial marker, whereas selection may have driven phenotypic character change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)779-789
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Archipelago
  • Buteo galapagoensis
  • Buteo swainsoni
  • Island
  • Morphology
  • Niche expansion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'On the origin of the Galápagos hawk: An examination of phenotypic differentiation and mitochondrial paraphyly'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this