Speciation in the stonechat (Saxicola torquata) inferred from nucleotide sequences of the cytochrome-b gene

Authors

  • U. Wittmann,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institut für Pharmazeutische Biologie der Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, and Max-Planck-Institut für Verhaltens-physiologie, Andechs, Germany
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  • P. Heidrich,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institut für Pharmazeutische Biologie der Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, and Max-Planck-Institut für Verhaltens-physiologie, Andechs, Germany
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  • M. Wink,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institut für Pharmazeutische Biologie der Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, and Max-Planck-Institut für Verhaltens-physiologie, Andechs, Germany
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  • E. Gwinner

    Corresponding author
    1. Institut für Pharmazeutische Biologie der Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, and Max-Planck-Institut für Verhaltens-physiologie, Andechs, Germany
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lnstitut für Pharmazeutische Biologic, Universität Heidelberg, INF 364, D-69120 Heidelberg

MPI für Verhaltensphysiologie Andechs, D-82346 Andeclls, Germany

Abstract

The geographical differentiation and speciation in the stonechat (Saxicola torquata; Aves: Turdidae) was studied by sequencing a 300-bp fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene. Stonechats from three different subspecies inhabiting three continents (S. t. rubicola, the European stonechat; S. t. maura, the Siberian stonechat; and S. t. axillaris, an African stonechat) and stonechats from seven European populations were examined. While variation within the populations of the European subspecies was less than 0.3%, the genetic distances between the subspecies were substantial (2.7-5.7%) in comparison with published data for subspecies of other birds. If speciation is indeed reflected in the cytochrome-b gene of stonechats, species status for the African stonechat, but also for the Siberian taxon, should be reconsidered, especially in the light of differences in distributions, morphology and habitat preference.

Ancillary