The phylogenetic relationships, biogeography and classification of, and morphobehavioral (M/B) evolution in, gamebirds (Aves: Galliformes) are investigated. In-group taxa (rooted on representatives of the Anseriformes) include 158 species representing all suprageneric galliform taxa and 65 genera. The characters include 102 M/B attributes and 4452 nucleic acid base pairs from mitochondrial cytochrome b (CYT B), NADH
dehydrogenase subunit 2 (ND2), 12S ribosomal DNA (12S) and control region (CR), and nuclear ovomucoid intron G (OVO-G). Analysis of the combined character data set yielded a single, completely resolved cladogram that had the highest levels of jackknife support, which suggests a need for a revised classification for the phasianine galliforms. Adding 102 M/B characters to the combined CYT B and ND2 partitions (2184 characters) decisively overturns the topology suggested by analysis of the two mtDNA partitions alone, refuting the view that M/B characters should be excluded from phylogenetic analyses because of their relatively small number and putative character state ambiguity. Exclusion of the OVO-G partition (with > 70% missing data) from the combined data set had no effect on cladistic structure, but slightly lowered jackknife support at several nodes. Exclusion of third positions of codons in an analysis of a CYT B + ND2 partition resulted in a massive loss of resolution and support, and even failed to recover the monophyly of the Galliformes with jackknife support. A combined analysis of putatively less informative, "non-coding" characters (CYT B/ND2 third position
sites + CR +12S + OVO-G sequences) yielded a highly resolved consensus cladogram congruent with the combined-evidence cladogram. Traditionally recognized suprageneric galliform taxa emerging in the combined cladogram are: the families Megapodiidae (megapodes), Cracidae (cracids), Numididae (guineafowls), Odontophoridae (New World quails) and Phasianidae (pheasants, pavonines, partridges, quails, francolins, spurfowls and grouse) and the subfamilies Cracinae (curassows, chachalacas and the horned guan), Penelopinae (remaining guans), Pavoninae sensu lato (peafowls, peacock pheasants and argus pheasants), Tetraoninae (grouse) and Phasianinae (pheasants minus Gallus). The
monophyly of some traditional groupings (e.g., the perdicinae: partridges/quails/francolins) is rejected decisively, contrasted by the emergence of other unexpected groupings. The most remarkable phylogenetic results are the placement of endemic African galliforms as sisters to geographically far-distant taxa in Asia and the
Americas. Biogeographically, the combined-data cladogram supports the hypothesis that basal lineages of galliforms diverged prior to the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K-T) Event and that the subsequent cladogenesis was influenced by the break-up of Gondwana. The evolution of gamebirds in Africa, Asia and the Americas has a far more complicated historical biogeography than suggested to date. With regard to character evolution: spurs appear to have evolved at least twice within the Galliformes; a relatively large number of tail feathers (≥ 14) at least three times; polygyny at least twice; and sexual dimorphism many times.