Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2023


We identified a novel clade with striking biogeographic implications. Unsampled genera, Hylonympha and Sternoclyta, were found to be close to the genus Heliodoxa within the Brilliants. Heliodoxa tend to occur in lower montane habitats, such as the tropical, upper tropical, and subtropical elevational zones of the Andes and the Neotropics. Analysis of geographic and elevational zones showed that genus Heliodoxa and related genera diversified by out-of-Andes dispersal to mountain ranges of Central America, coastal Venezuela, the Pantepui, and southeastern Brazil, since the mid-Miocene. Within the Brilliants, reductions in elevation preceded these geographic expansions. Secondary colonization of the lowlands from the mountains appears to be rare in hummingbirds, with only one occurrence across the phylogeny of the two major Andean clades of hummingbirds, the Coquettes, and the Brilliants. The ‘True Brilliants’, a newly recognized clade comprising the Heliodoxa and its close relatives, provides an example of hummingbird evolution toward lower elevations.




Phylogenomics, dispersal, Andes, Heliodoxa, Sternoclyta, Hylonympha

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Christopher C. Witt

Second Committee Member

Lisa Barrow

Third Committee Member

Michael Andersen

Included in

Biology Commons