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Contrasting patterns of diversification in two sister species of martins (Aves: Hirundinidae): The Sand Martin Riparia riparia and the Pale Martin R. diluta

Journal article
Authors M. Schweizer
Y. Liu
Urban Olsson
H. Shirihai
Q. Huang
P. J. Leader
J. L. Copete
G. M. Kirwan
G. Chen
L. Svensson
Published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Volume 125
Pages 116-126
ISSN 1055-7903
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 116-126
Language en
Keywords Hirundinidae, Molecular phylogeny, Phylogeography, Pleistocene, Riparia, Taxonomy
Subject categories Evolutionary Biology, Genetics


Species not only responded idiosyncratically to past climate changes, there were also regionally contrasting effects on spatio-temporal diversification patterns. Studies of closely related species appear to be a particularly promising comparative approach to disentangle such regionally differential impacts. In this study, we undertook a comprehensive geographic sampling to investigate the evolutionary history of the Holarctic Sand Martin Riparia riparia and the chiefly Central and East Asian Pale Martin R. diluta. Previous phylogenetic studies using only a limited geographic sampling, particularly for the latter, revealed the two to be genetically distinct, with the former showing only a shallow genetic structure in mitochondrial DNA. Based on one mitochondrial, one autosomal and one Z-linked nuclear marker, we confirmed the shallow genetic structure in R. riparia even when including the morphologically relatively distinct subspecies R. r. shelleyi from the Nile Valley in Egypt and probably the Middle East. On the other hand the different subspecies of R. diluta, i.e. R. d. diluta from Central Asia, R. d. indica from the northwestern Indian Subcontinent, R. d. tibetana from the Tibetan Plateau and R. d. fohkienensis from southeastern China, were found to be genetically distinct. Their diversification started before the Early to Middle Pleistocene Transition, which was followed by a pronounced succession of glacial and interglacial periods. These rather old divergence events contrast with the lack of any strong phylogeographic structure in R. riparia. Strongly structured populations and regional diversification have been reported in different forest passerine families of South-East Asia. Here we demonstrate, however, that species characteristic of open-country habitats such as R. diluta might display a similar pattern. Morphometric analyses of 120 individuals revealed no clear differences between the different subspecies of R. diluta. Given their similarity also in plumage features, we refrain from proposing any splits despite their marked genetic differentiation, pending further studies and particularly the discovery of potential secondary contact zones. © 2018 Elsevier Inc.

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