We present a phylogenetic hypothesis for 40 species in the bird family Paridae, based on comparisons of nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene. Parids, including tits and chickadees, are an older group than their morphological stereotypy suggests. The longest cytochrome-b distances between species reach 12% in uncorrected divergence. With the exception of one thrasher-like terrestrial tit species of the Tibetan plateau (Pseudopodoces humilis), morphological and ecological stasis have prevailed since the initial parid radiation in the Old World during the mid-Tertiary.
All trees support monophyly of the family Paridae, which includes Parus (sensu lato) and the monotypic Oriental genera Sylviparus, Melanochlora, and Pseudopodoces. Within the clade of chickadees and gray tits (Parus, subgenus Poecile), three Old World species, Parus lugubris of the eastern Mediterranean and Balkan regions, P. superciliosus of high elevations in the Himalayas of western China, and P. varius of the Orient are sisters to all other species. The Eurasian crested titmice (subgenus Lophophanes) and North American crested titmice (subgenus Baeolophus) are sister groups. Our data suggest two colonizations of the New World by parids in the late Tertiary. The ancestor of modern Baeolophus colonized North America 4 mya, and the ancestor of all North American chickadees colonized North America 3.5 mya.
Phylogénie chez la mésange (Paridés): II. Relations entre les espèces basées sur des séquences du gène mitochondrial cytochrome-b