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Stonechats (1 Viewer)

Daniel Philippe

Well-known member
Zink, R. M., Pavlova, A., Drovetski, S., Wink, M. and Rohwer, S. 2009
Taxonomic status and evolutionary history of the Saxicola torquata complex
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution In press

Abstract
We explored variation in mitochondrial ND2 gene sequences from 171 stonechats (Saxicola torquata complex) collected from 27 Eurasian and 3 African localities. We found that two widespread neighboring Eurasian subspecies of Siberian stonechat, Saxicola maura maura and S. m. stejnegeri, although very similar in appearance, are not each other’s closest relatives. Eastern Asian S. m. stejnegeri appears to have split from other Palearctic, African, and island stonechats well before differentiation occurred among the latter taxa. Our data indicate that European (S. t. rubicola), central Palearctic (S. m. maura) and eastern Palearctic (S. m. stejnegeri) are independently evolving, and could each warrant separate species status, as assumed earlier for S. rubicola, S. maura and S. torquata. However, we found three localities at which individuals from different major groups occurred. Thus, although these are likely phylogenetic species it is unclear whether they are biological species. There was little phylogeographic structure within the three major Palearctic clades, although samples from Spain might be showing incipient divergence. We maintain that the topology of a mtDNA gene tree is a valid means to discern taxonomic limits.
 

Richard Klim

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Hi Daniel.

Do you know if the paper says anything about other eastern ssps? eg, the abstract states "stejnegeri appears to have split from other Paleartic stonechats", suggesting that przewalskii is closer to maurus than to stejnegeri? Also, any comments about relationships with indicus, or variegatus/armenicus?

Richard
 
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Daniel Philippe

Well-known member
Do you know if the paper says anything about other eastern ssps? eg, the abstract states "stejnegeri appears to have split from other Paleartic stonechats", suggesting that przewalskii is closer to maurus than to stejnegeri? Also, any comments about relationships with indicus, or variegatus/armenicus?

The Eastern Asian Stonechat is now Saxicola (maurus) stejnegeri; przewalskii, indicus, armenicus and variegatus remain mere ssp of S. maurus.
 

Richard Klim

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Hellström & Wærn 2011

Hellström & Wærn 2011. Field identification and ageing of Siberian Stonechats in spring and summer. British Birds 104(5): 236-254.
...Common Stonechat taxonomy is controversial and a range of views has been published in the last decade (e.g. Urquhart 2002, del Hoyo et al. 2005, Zink et al. 2009). Zink et al. (2009) presented evidence for treating the populations in the Palearctic as three species, based on geographical variation in mtDNA sequences: S. rubicola (including hibernans), S. maurus and S. stejnegeri. This treatment may well prove to be the most rational one but, for the time being, informed studies from the reported zone of intergradation in Siberia are lacking, as well as from similarly interesting areas in eastern Turkey, Armenia and northern Iran. Furthermore, the same study found haplotypes (sets of closely linked genetic markers on one chromosome which tend to be inherited together) from the central Siberian clade (maurus) in a sample from Rostov-na-Donu area, just east of the Sea of Azov, in southwest Russia, and haplotypes from the east Siberian clade (stejnegeri) in a sample from Astrakhan, west of the Caspian Sea. Both findings are rather unexpected and controversial, and it may prove premature to draw any firm conclusions about the phylogenetic relationships of maurus and stejnegeri. Further input from areas of potential hybridisation/intergradation is required, and an analysis of nuclear DNA may be rewarding. In addition to Zink et al. (2009), genetic relationships between populations were discussed by Wittmann et al. (1995), Wink et al. (2002) and Illera et al. (2008), but unfortunately none of these studies included samples from either variegatus or armenicus.

For the purposes of this paper (and without taking a stand on the issue), we have adopted the traditional approach to Stonechat taxonomy and treat all taxa as races of S. torquatus, in accordance with the current treatment adopted by the AERC Taxonomic Advisory Committee (Crochet & Joynt 2010) and BOU (BOU 2010).
 

Richard Klim

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Rubicola in Britain

Although maurus, variegatus and stejnegeri are on the British List, it's quite remarkable that Saxicola (torquatus) rubicola European Stonechat ssp rubicola has yet to be confirmed in Britain (or does that just demonstrate that hibernans doesn't merit recognition?)...

David & John Cooper on Martin Garner's Birding Frontiers blog today:
birdingfrontiers.com/2011/07/12/continental-stonechats
 
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