The Columbiformes are represented by a single family, the Columbidae (pigeons and doves). The phylogeny is not yet fully resolved, but parts of it have already been worked out:

Genus-level timetree of extant Columbidae, with the distribution of each genus being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution code). Subfamily interrelations are still unresolved and monophyly of Raphinae is uncertain. Relationships within Columbinae are primarily based on Pereira et al. (2007), Johnson & Weckstein (2011), Banks et al. (2013), Lapiedra et al. (2013), and Soares et al. (2016). Relationships within Claravinae are based on Sweet & Johnson (2015) and Sangster et al. (2018), and relationships within Raphinae are based on Pereira et al. (2007), Gibb & Penny (2010), Jonsson et al. (2011), Moyle et al. (2013), Cibois et al. (2013, 2017), Soares et al. (2016), and Bruxaux et al. (2018). Divergence times within Columbidae are very uncertain yet. The family as a whole is probably younger than 25 million years (Prum et al., 2015). For orientation, the paper of Soares et al. (2016) probably provides reasonable divergence time estimates.



Banks RC, Weckstein JD, Remsen JV, and Johnson KP (2013), Classification of a clade of New World doves (Columbidae: Zenaidini), Zootaxa 3669, 184-188. (abstract)


Besnard G, Bertrand JAM, de la Haie B, Bourgeois YXC, Lhuillier E, and Thebaud C (2016), Valuing museum specimens: high-throughput DNA sequencing on historical collections of New Guinea, Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 117, 71-82. (free pdf) 


Bruxaux J, Gabrielli M, Ashari A, Prys-Jones R, Joseph L, Mila B, Besnard G, and Thebaut C (2018), Recovering the evolutionary history of crowned pigeons (Columbidae: Goura): implications for the biogeography and conservation of New Guinean lowland birds, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 120, 248-258. (abstract)


Cibois A, Thibault JC, Bonillo C, Filardi CE, Watling D, and Pasquet E (2014), Phylogeny and biogeography of the fruit doves (Aves: Columbidae), Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 70, 442-453. (abstract)


Cibois A, Thibault JC, Meyr JY, and Pasquet E (2015), On the origin of sympatric fruit doves in a small and remote Pacific archipelago, Pacific Science 69, 299-312. (abstract)


Cibois A, Thibault JC, Bonillo C, Filardi CE, and Pasquet E (2017), Phylogeny and biogeography of the imperial pigeons (Aves: Columbidae) in the Pacific Ocean, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 110, 19-26. (abstract)


Fulton TL, Wagner SM, Fisher C, and Shapiro B (2012), Nuclear DNA from the extinct Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) confirms a single origin of New World pigeons, Ann. Anat. 194, 52-57. (abstract)


Gonzalez J, Delgado Castro G, Garcia del Rey E, Berger C, and Wink M (2009), Use of mitochondrial and nuclear genes to infer the origin of two endemic pigeons from the Canary Islands, J. Ornithol. 150, 357-367. (abstract)


Huang Z, Tu F, and Liu X (2015), Determinaton of the complete mitogenome of Spotted Dove, Spilopelia chinensis (Columbiformes: Columbidae), Mitochondrial DNA Part A. 27, e:6. (abstract)


Heupink TH, van Grouw H, and Lambert DM (2014), The mysterious Spotted Green Pigeon and its relation to the Dodo and its kindred, BMC Evol. Biol. 14: e:136. (pdf)


Johnson KP, and Weckstein JD (2011), The Central American land bridge as an engine of diversification in New World doves, J. Biogeogr. 38, 1069-1076. (abstract)


Jonsson KA, Irestedt M, Bowie RCK, Christidis L, and Fjeldsa J (2011), Systematics and biogeography of Indo-Pacific ground-doves, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 59, 538-543. (abstract)


Lapiedra O, Sol D, Carranza S, and Beaulieu JM (2013), Behavioural changes and the adaptive diversification of pigeons and doves, Proc. R. Soc. B 280: e:20122893. (pdf)


Lapiedra O, Sayol F, Garcia-Porta J, and Sol D (2021), Niche shifts after island colonization spurred adaptive diversification and speciation in a cosmopolitan bird clade, Proc. Roy. Soc. B 288, (abstract)

Moyle RG, Jones RM, and Andersen MJ (2013), A reconsideration of Gallicolumba (Aves: Columbidae) relationships using fresh source material reveals  pseudogenes, chimeras, and a novel phylogenetic hypothesis, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 66, 1060-1066. (abstract)


Nowak JE, Sweet AD, Weckstein JD, and Johnson KP (2019), A molecular phylogenetic analysis of the genera of fruit doves and their allies using dense taxonomic sampling, INHS Bulletin 42: e:2019001. (pdf)


Pereira SL, Johnson KP, Clayton DH, and Baker AJ (2007), Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences support a Cretaceous origin of Columbiformes and a dispersal-driven radiation in the Paleogene, Syst. Biol. 56, 656-672. (pdf)


Peters C, Geary M, Nelson HP, Rusk BL, Von Hardenberg A, and Muir A (2023), Phylogenetic placement and life history trait imputation for Grenada Dove Leptotila wellsi, Bird Conserv. Int. 33, e:11, 1-11. (pdf)

Prum RO, Berv JS, Dornburg A, Field DJ, Townsend JP, Lemmon EM, and Lemmon AR (2015), A comprehensive phylogeny of birds (Aves) using targeted next-generation DNA sequencing, Nature 526, 569-573. (abstract)


Sangster G, Sweet AD, and Johnson KP (2018), Paraclaravis, a new genus for the Purple-winged and Maroon-chested ground-doves (Aves: Columbidae), ground-doves, Zootaxa 4461, 134-140. (abstract)


Soares AER, Novak BJ, Haile J, Heupink TH, Fjeldsa J, Gilbert MTP, Poinar H, Church JM, and Shapiro B (2016), Complete mitochondrial genomes of living and extinct pigeons revise the timing of the columbiform radiation, BMC Evol. Biol. 16: e:230. (pdf)


Sweet AD, and Johnson KP (2015), Patterns of diversification in small New World ground doves are consistent with major geologic events, Auk 132, 300-312. (pdf)


Sweet AD, Maddox JD, and Johnson KP (2017), A complete molecular phylogeny of Claravis confirms its paraphyly within small New World Ground-doves (Aves: Peristerinae) and implies multiple plumage state transitions, J. Avian Biol. 48, 459-464. (abstract)


Xu N, Zhang Q, Wie Y, Mao Y, and Liu H (2020), The complete mitochondrial genome of diamond dove (Geopelia cuneata) and its phylogeny, Mitochondrial DNA Part B 5, 16657-1668. (pdf) 


Malagasy Turtle-Dove (Nesoenas picturata)

Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata), (Foto: Carolin Pfeiffer)

Southern Crowned Pigeon (Goura scheepmakeri), male, (Foto: Carolin Pfeiffer)

Pink-spotted Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus perlatus)


Pied Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula bicolor)

 Beautiful Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus pulchellus) (Foto: Carolin Pfeiffer)

Common Emerald-Dove (Chalcophaps indica)