SYSTEMATIC PLACEMENT OF THE BEE HUMMINGBIRD (MELLISUGA HELENAE) (AVES: TROCHILIDAE) AND POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES FOR NOMENCLATURE OF THE MELLISUGINAE
Keywords:hummingbirds, phylogenetics, Mellisuga, Nesophlox, DNA, systematics
The Near Threatened Cuban endemic, Bee Hummingbird Mellisuga helenae, is iconic for its tiny size—the male is the smallest bird in the world. In this study, one mitochondrial gene (ND2) and introns of two nuclear genes (encoding adenylate kinase and beta-fibrinogen), were sequenced and aligned to homologous sequences from other hummingbird species. With high statistical support, both Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian analyses resolved Bee Hummingbird as sister to Bahama and Inagua Hummingbirds Calliphlox (or Nesophlox) evelynae and lyrura, rather than the congeneric Vervain Hummingbird Mellisuga minima. This finding highlights the need for nomenclatural rearrangement of several hummingbird species in line with the results of recent molecular phylogenies.