The phylogeny of grouse (Aves: Tetraoninae) was reconstructed using four noncoding loci: two were W-linked, one was autosomal, and one was the mitochondrial control region (CR). The rapidly evolving CR provided resolution throughout the tree, whereas the slowly evolving nuclear loci failed to resolve deeper nodes. The tree based on all four loci combined was almost identical to the CR tree and did not improve resolution or bootstrap support. The stemminess and imbalance of the trees were good determinants of the quality of the phylogenetic signal. The skewness of the tree score distribution (g1) behaved contrary to prediction; loci that had a more symmetric tree score distribution produced trees that had greater stemminess and balance. The quality of the phylogenetic signal was related to the evolutionary rate. Four clades of grouse were discovered. Two of these clades corresponded to currently recognized genera Bonasa and Lagopus. Bonasa was the sister to other grouse and Lagopus was the sister to the other two non-Bonasa clades. The third clade included Falcipennis, Tetrao, and Lyrurus. The fourth clade included the genera Centrocercus, Dendragapus, and Tympanuchus. The data support recognition of Falcipennis canadensis franklinii and Dendragapus obscurus fuliginosus as species.

Author notes

Present address: Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, 100 Ecology Building, 1987 Upper Buford Circle, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA E-mail: drove001@tc.umn.edu.