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Mitochondrial phylogeny of Locustella and related genera


  • Sergei V. Drovetski,

  • Robert M. Zink,

  • Igor V. Fadeev,

  • Evgeniy V. Nesterov,

  • Evgeniy A. Koblik,

  • Yaroslav A. Red'kin,

  • Sievert Rohwer

S. V. Drovetski (correspondence), Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, 100 Ecology Building, 1987 Upper Buford Circle, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA. R. M. Zink, Bell Museum, University of Minnesota, 100 Ecology Building, 1987 Upper Buford Circle, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA. I. V. Fadeev and E. V. Nesterov, State Darwin Museum, Vavilova St. 57, Moscow 117292, Russia. E. A. Koblik and Y. A. Red'kin, Zoological Museum, Moscow State University, Bol'shaya Nikitskaya St. 6, Moscow, 103009, Russia. S. Rohwer, Burke Museum and Department of Zoology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-3010, USA. Present address of S. V. Drovetski: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alaska Anchorage, 3211 Providence Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-8104. E-mail:


We used maximum likelihood analysis of complete mitochondrial ND2 sequences (1041 bp) to clarify the taxonomy and relationships of various species and genera of grass and bush warblers. The tree revealed two clades of grass and bush warblers. One clade was comprised of all four western Palearctic Locustella and two species of Asian Bradypterus. The other clade included five eastern Palearctic Locustella (including the distinctive Sakhalin warbler Locustella amnicola) and the marsh grassbird Megalurus pryeri. African Bradypterus and Australian little grassbird Megalurus gramineus were distantly related to their Asian congeners. Therefore, current taxonomy of these genera does not reflect their evolutionary history and needs revision. It is proposed that a phylogenetic analysis of morphology and ecological preferences would show that the current taxonomy of grass and bush warblers reflects species’ habitat preferences and morphology related to locomotion and foraging in their habitats, rather than their shared ancestry. Distinct clades were found in grasshopper warbler Locustella naevia and Pallas's grasshopper warbler L. certhiola. Detailed phylogeographic studies are needed to elucidate the species status of the clades within these two species.