Robert Moyle

Robert Moyle
  • Senior Curator - Ornithology

Contact Info

Dyche Hall
1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045


Dr. Robert Moyle's research seeks to understand the patterns and processes of avian diversification.


I am interested in three broad topics; the historical biogeography of pantropical groups, patterns of endemism and drivers of diversification in SE Asia and the tropical Pacific, and the evolution of life history traits within tropical groups.

Even in “well studied” groups like birds, relatively little is known about diversity in the tropics. Because of this, the first step in much of my research is to accurately account for this diversity, generally using museum collections and genetic surveys to reveal populations that have independent histories and field surveys to document current distributions and community structure. The genetic data are then used to reconstruct the evolutionary history of groups of interest.

These evolutionary histories can be combined with natural history data and used to test hypotheses about factors that might influence diversification. Much of my work focuses on two insular regions (Melanesia and the Philippines/Greater Sunda islands) that are ideal systems for studying the tempo and mode of speciation in birds. Field expeditions are a large component of my research program, for specimen acquisition as well as collecting life history data.

Selected Publications

Andersen, M. J., C. H. Oliveros, C. E. Filardi, and R. G. Moyle. 2013. "Phylogeography of the Variable Dwarf-Kingfisher Ceyx lepidus (Aves: Alcedinidae) inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences" Auk. 130(1). 118-131.

Moyle, R. G., R. M. Jones, and M. J. Andersen. 2013. "A reconsideration of Gallicolumba (Aves: Columbidae) relationships using fresh source material reveals pseudogenes, chimeras, and a novel phylogenetic hypothesis" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 66(3). 1060-1066.

Oliveros, C. H., S. Reddy, and R. G. Moyle. 2012. "The phylogenetic position of some Philippine "babblers" spans the muscicapoid and sylvioid bird radiations" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 65. 799-804.

Moyle, R. G., M. J. Andersen, C. H. Oliveros, F. Steinheimer, and S. Reddy. 2012. "Phylogeny and biogeography of the core babblers (Aves: Timaliidae)" Systematic Biology. 61(4). 631-651.

Sheldon, F. H., C. H. Oliveros, S. S. Taylor, B. McKay, H. C. Lim, M. A. Rahman, H. Mays, and R. G. Moyle. 2012. "Molecular phylogeny and insular biogeography of the lowland tailorbirds of Southeast Asia (Cisticolidae: Orthotomus)" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 65. 54-63.

Hosner, P. A. and R. G. Moyle. 2012. "A molecular phylogeny of black-tyrants (Tyrannidae: Knipolegus) reveals strong geographic patterns and homoplasy in plumage and display behavior" Auk. 129. 156-167.

Reddy, S. and R. G. Moyle. 2011. "Systematics of the scimitar babblers (Pomatorhinus: Timaliidae): phylogeny, biogeography, and species-limits of four species-complexes" Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 102. 846-869.

Lim, H. C., M. A. Rahman, S. L. Lim, R. G. Moyle, and F. H. Sheldon. 2011. "Revisiting Wallace’s haunt: Coalescent simulations and comparative niche modeling reveal historical mechanisms that promoted population divergence in the Malay Archipelago" Evolution. 65(2). 321-334.

Sánchez-González, L. A. and R. G. Moyle. 2011. "Molecular systematics and species limits in the Philippine fantails (Aves: Rhipidura)" Molecular Biology and Evolution. 61(2). 290-299.

Moyle, R. G., S. S. Taylor, C. H. Oliveros, H. C. Lim, C. L. Haines, M. A. Rahman, and F. H. Sheldon. 2011. "Diversification of an endemic Southeast Asian genus: Phylogenetic relationships of the Spiderhunters (Nectariniidae: Arachnothera)" Auk. 128(4). 777-788.

Lim, H. C., F. Zou, S. S. Taylor, B. D. Marks, R. G. Moyle, G. Voelker, and F. H. Sheldon. 2010. "Phylogeny of magpie-robins and shamas (Aves: Turdidae: Copsychus and Trichixos): implications for island biogeography in Southeast Asia" Journal of Biogeography. 37. 1894-1906.

Hosner, P. A., F. H. Sheldon, H. C. Lim, and R. G. Moyle. 2010. "Phylogeny and biogeography of the Asian trogons (Aves: Trogoniformes) inferred from nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 57. 1219–1225.

Jønsson, K. A., R. C. Bowie, R. G. Moyle, M. Irestedt, L. Christidis, J. A. Norman, and J. Fjeldsa. 2010. "Phylogeny and biogeography of Oriolidae (Aves: Passeriformes)" Ecography. 33. 232-241.

Oliveros, C. H. and R. G. Moyle. 2010. "Origin and diversification of Philippine bulbuls" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 54(3). 822-832.

Sánchez-González, L. A., C. H. Oliveros, N. Puna, and R. G. Moyle. 2010. "Nests, nest placement, and eggs of three Philippine endemic birds" Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 122(3). 587-591.

Esselstyn, J. A., C. H. Oliveros, R. G. Moyle, A. T. Peterson, J. A. McGuire, and R. M. Brown. 2010. "Integrating phylogenetic and taxonomic evidence illuminates complex biogegraphic patterns along Huxley’s modification of Wallace’s Line" Journal of Biogeography. 37. 2054–2066.

Jønsson, K. A., R. C. Bowie, R. G. Moyle, L. Christidis, J. A. Norman, B. W. Benz, and J. Fjeldsa. 2010. "Historical biogeography of an Indo-Pacific passerine bird family: Pachycephalidae: Different colonization patterns in the Indonesian and Melanesian archipelagos" Journal of Biogeography. 37(2). 245-257.

Lim, H. C., F. H. Sheldon, and R. G. Moyle. 2010. "Extensive color polymorphism in the Southeast Asian Oriental dwarf kingfisher Ceyx erithaca: a result of gene flow during population divergence?" Journal of Avian Biology. 41. 305-318.

Danielsen, F. et al. 2010. "Endemic avifaunal biodiversity and tropical forest loss in Makira, a mountainous Pacific island" Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography. 31(1). 100-114.

Lohman, D. J. et al. 2010. "Cryptic genetic diversity in "widespread" Southeast Asian bird species suggests that Philippine avian endemism is gravely underestimated" Biological Conservation. 143. 1885-1890.

Derryberry, E., S. Claramunt, R. T. Chesser, A. Aleixo, J. Cracraft, R. G. Moyle, and R. T. Brumfield. 2010. "Certhiasomus, a new genus of woodcreeper (Aves: Passeriformes: Dendrocolaptidae)" Zootaxa. 2416. 44-50.

Uy, J. A. C., R. G. Moyle, and C. E. Filardi. 2009. "Plumage and song differences mediate species recognition between incipient flycatcher species of the Solomon Islands" Evolution. 63(1). 153-164.

Sheldon, F. H., D. J. Lohman, H. C. Lim, F. Zou, S. M. Goodman, D. M. Prawiradilaga, K. Winker, T. M. Braile, and R. G. Moyle. 2009. "Phylogeography of the magpie-robin species complex (Aves: Turdidae: Copsychus) reveals a Philippine species, and interesting isolating barrier, and unusual dispersal patterns in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia" Journal of Biogeography. 36. 1070-1083.

Tello, J. G., R. G. Moyle, D. J. Marchese, and J. Cracraft. 2009. "Phylogeny and phylogenetic classification of the tyrant flycatchers, cotingas, manakins, and their allies (Aves: Tyrannides)" Cladistics. 25. 429-467.

Moyle, R. G., R. T. Chesser, R. T. Brumfield, J. G. Tello, D. J. Marchese, and J. Cracraft. 2009. "Phylogeny and phylogenetic classification of the antbirds, ovenbirds, woodcreepers, and allies (Aves: Passeriformes: Infraorder Furnariides)" Cladistics. 25. 386-405.

Nyári, Á. S., A. T. Peterson, N. H. Rice, and R. G. Moyle. 2009. "Phylogenetic relationships of flowerpeckers (Aves: Dicaeidae): Novel insights into the evolution of a tropical passerine clade" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 53. 613-619.

Nyári, A. S., B. W. Benz, K. A. Jønsson, J. Fjeldså, and R. G. Moyle. 2009. "Phylogenetic relationships of fantails (Aves: Rhipiduridae)" Zoologica Scripta. 38. 553-561.

Sheldon, F. H. et al. 2009. "Observations on the distribution, ecology, and systematics of forest birds in Sabah, Malaysia" Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 57(2). 577-586.

Sheldon, F. H. and R. G. Moyle. 2009. "Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 14" edited by del Hoyo, J., A. B. Elliott, and J. Sargatal.

Moyle, R. G., C. E. Filardi, C. E. Smith, and J. Diamond. 2009. "Explosive Pleistocene diversification and hemispheric expansion in a ‘great speciator’" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 106(6). 1863-1868.

Uy, J. A. C., R. G. Moyle, C. E. Filardi, and Z. A. Cheviron. 2009. "Difference in plumage color used in species recognition between incipient species is linked to a single amino acid substitution in the melanocortin-1 receptor" American Naturalist. 174. 244-254.

Weckstein, J. D., B. D. Marks, R. G. Moyle, K. P. Johnson, M. J. Meyer, J. Braimah, J. Oppong, and J. Amponsah. 2009. "Birds recorded from surveys in Ghana’s Central and Brong-Ahafo regions" Malimbus. 31. 28-46.

Moyle, R. G., P. A. Hosner, J. Nais, M. Lakim, and F. H. Sheldon. 2008. "Taxonomic status of the Kinabalu ‘linchi’ swiftlet" Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club. 128(2). 94-100.

Jønsson, K. A., R. C. Bowie, R. G. Moyle, L. Christidis, C. E. Filardi, J. A. Norman, and J. Fjeldså. 2008. "Molecular phylogenetics and diversification within one of the most geographically variable bird species complexes (Pachycephala pectoralis/melanura)." Journal of Avian Biology. 39. 473-478.

Moyle, R. G., B. Slikas, L. A. Whittingham, D. W. Winkler, and F. H. Sheldon. 2008. "DNA sequence assessment of phylogenetic relationships among New World martins (Hirundinidae: Progne)" Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 120. 683-691.

Spellman, G. M., A. Cibois, R. G. Moyle, K. Winker, and F. K. Barker. 2008. "Clarifying the systematics of an enigmatic avian lineage: What is a Bombycillid?" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 49. 1036-1040.

Peterson, A. T. and R. G. Moyle. 2008. "An appraisal of recent taxonomic reappraisals based on character scoring systems" Forktail. 24. 110-112.

Peterson, A. T., R. T. Brumfield, R. G. Moyle, A. S. Nyari, J. V. Remsen, and M. B. Robbins. 2007. "The need for proper vouchering in phylogenetic studies of birds" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 45. 1042-1044.

Ribas, C. C., R. G. Moyle, C. Y. Miyaki, and J. Cracraft. 2007. "The assembly of montane biotas: linking Andean tectonics and climatic oscillations to independent regimes of diversification in Pionus parrots" Proceeding of the Royal Society of London B. 274. 2399-2408.

Marks, B. D., J. D. Weckstein, and R. G. Moyle. 2007. "Molecular phylogenetics of the bee-eaters (Aves: Meropidae) based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequence data" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 45. 223-32.

Zhou, F., H. C. Lim, B. D. Marks, R. G. Moyle, and F. H. Sheldon. 2007. "Molecular phylogenetic analysis of the Grey-cheeked Fulvetta (Alcippe morrisonia) of China and Indochina: a case of remarkable genetic divergence in a “species”" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 44. 165-174.

Moyle, R. G., J. Fuchs, E. Pasquet, and B. D. Marks. 2007. "Feeding behavior, toe count, and the phylogenetic relationships among alcedinine kingfishers" Journal of Avian Biology. 38. 317-326.

Sodhi, N. S. et al. 2007. "Barcoding Indo-Malayan birds" Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 55(2). 397-398.

Moyle, R. G., J. Cracraft, M. Lakim, J. Nais, and F. H. Sheldon. 2006. "Reconsideration of the phylogenetic relationships of the enigmatic Bornean Bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala)" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 39. 893-898.

Moyle, R. G., R. T. Chesser, R. O. Prum, P. Schikler, and J. Cracraft. 2006. "Phylogeny and evolutionary history of Old World suboscine birds (Eurylaimides)" American Museum Novitates. 3544. 1-22.

Moyle, R. G. and B. D. Marks. 2006. "Phylogenetic relationships of the bulbuls (Aves: Pycnonotidae) based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence data" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 40(3). 687-695.

Sharer, R. J. et al. 2006. "On the logic of archeological inference: early formative pottery and the evolution of Mesoamerican societies" Latin American Antiquity. 17(1). 90-103.

Moyle, R. G.. 2006. "A molecular phylogeny of kingfishers (Aves: Alcedinidae) with insights into early biogeographic history" Auk. 123. 487-499.

Filardi, C. E. and R. G. Moyle. 2005. "Single origin of a pan-Pacific bird group and upstream colonization of Australasia" Nature. 438. 216-219.

Sheldon, F. H., L. A. Whittingham, R. G. Moyle, B. Slikas, and D. W. Winkler. 2005. "Phylogeny of swallows (Aves: Hirundinidae) estimated from nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 35. 254-270.

Moyle, R. G.. 2005. "Phylogeny and biogeographic history of Trogoniformes, a pantropical bird order" Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 84. 725-738.

Moyle, R. G., M. Schilthuizen, M. A. Rahman, and F. H. Sheldon. 2005. "Molecular phylogenetic analysis of the White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti in Borneo" Journal of Avian Biology. 36. 96-101.

Stoltman, J. B., J. Marcus, K. V. Flannery, J. H. Burton, and R. G. Moyle. 2005. "Ceramic exchange between the Olmec and their neighbors was two-way: new petrographic evidence" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 102. 11213-11218.

Moyle, R. G.. 2004. "Phylogenetics of barbets (Aves: Piciformes) based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequence data" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 30(1). 187-200.

Moyle, R. G.. 2004. "Calibration of molecular clocks and the biogeographic history of Crypteroniaceae" Evolution. 58(8). 1871-1873.

Moyle, R. G. and A. Wong. 2003. "The lower montane avifauna of Mt. Trus Madi" Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 50(1). 199-204.

Moyle, R. G.. 2003. "Bird diversity within Sabah Parks: A survey of Mt. Kinabalu, Crocker Range, and Tawau Hills" Sabah Parks Nature Journal. 6. 103-116.

Johnson, K. P., J. D. Weckstein, C. C. Witt, R. C. Faucett, and R. G. Moyle. 2002. "The perils of using host relationships in parasite taxonomy: Phylogeny of the Degeeriella complex" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 23. 150-157.

Johnson, K. P., R. G. Moyle, C. C. Witt, R. C. Faucett, and J. D. Weckstein. 2001. "Phylogenetic relationships in the louse genus Penenirmus based on nuclear (EF1α) and mitochondrial (COI) DNA sequences" Systematic Entomology. 26(4). 491-497.

Sheldon, F. H., R. G. Moyle, and J. Kennard. 2001. "Ornithology of Sabah: History, gazetteer, annotated checklist, and bibliography" Ornithological Monographs. 52. 1-285.

Moyle, R. G., A. Biun, B. Butit, and D. Sumpongol. 2001. "Brood hosts of Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus in Sabah, Malaysia" Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 121(2). 107-110.

Moyle, R. G. and F. H. Heppner. 1996. "Flight without horizon references in European Starlings" Auk. 115(3). 771-774.