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this is so cool I'm already giving it the "most awesome paper of 2012" award :)

Accelerated speciation in colour-polymorphic birds - Andrew F. Hugall Devi Stuart-Fox - Published online 09 May 2012

Colour polymorphism exemplifies extreme morphological diversity within populations1, 2. It is taxonomically widespread but generally rare. Theory suggests that where colour polymorphism does occur, processes generating and maintaining it can promote speciation but the generality of this claim is unclear1. Here we confirm, using species-level molecular phylogenies for five families of non-passerine birds, that colour polymorphism is associated with accelerated speciation rates in the three groups in which polymorphism is most prevalent. In all five groups, colour polymorphism is lost at a significantly greater rate than it is gained. Thus, the general rarity and phylogenetic dispersion of colour polymorphism is accounted for by a combination of higher speciation rate and higher transition rate from polymorphism to monomorphism, consistent with theoretical models where speciation is driven by fixation of one or more morphs3. This is corroborated by evidence from a species-level molecular phylogeny of passerines, incorporating 4,128 (66.5%) extant species, that polymorphic species tend to be younger than monomorphic species. Our results provide empirical support for the general proposition, dating from classical evolutionary theory2, 4, 5, 6, that colour polymorphism can increase speciation rates.
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awesome paper!! I think it perhaps too early to start giving out awards though. +Rich FitzJohn just in case you missed this one.
unless something else shows up with the words "color" "speciation" and "birds" I stick to my nomination, Matt. But, you know, I'm a little bit biased. :)
after reading the paper more closely, I still think it's cool, but I guess I should hold on to the awards for now... :P
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