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Taxonomy of the White-browed Shortwing (Brachypteryx montana) complex on mainland Asia and Taiwan: an integrative approach supports recognition of three instead of one species

Journal article
Authors P. Alstrom
P. C. Rasmussen
C. W. Xia
M. Gelang
Y. Liu
G. L. Chen
M. Zhao
Y. Hao
C. Zhao
J. Zhao
C. T. Yao
J. A. Eaton
R. Hutchinson
F. M. Lei
Urban Olsson
Published in Avian Research
Volume 9
ISSN 2053-7166
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Language en
Keywords Integrative taxonomy, Morphology, Song, Miocene, Pliocene, aves muscicapidae, diversification, colors
Subject categories Zoology


BackgroundThe White-browed Shortwing (Brachypteryx montana) is widespread from the central Himalayas to the southeast Chinese mainland and the island of Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia. Multiple subspecies are recognised, and several of these have recently been suggested to be treated as separate species based on differences in morphology and songs.MethodsWe here analyse plumage, morphometrics, songs, two mitochondrial and two nuclear markers, and geographical distributions of the two mainland Asian taxa B. m. cruralis and B. m. sinensis and the Taiwanese B. m. goodfellowi.ResultsWe conclude that these differ congruently in morphology, songs and DNA. Male B. m. goodfellowi is the most divergent in plumage (sexually monomorphic, unlike the two others; male similar to female), and B. m. cruralis and B. m. sinensis differ in male plumage maturation. The song of B. m. cruralis is strongly divergent from the others, whereas the songs of B. m. sinensis and B. m. goodfellowi are more similar to each other. Brachypteryx m. sinensis and B. m. goodfellowi are sisters, with an estimated divergence time 4.1 million years ago (mya; 95% highest posterior distribution [HPD] 2.8-5.5mya), and B. m. cruralis separated from these two 5.8mya (95% HPD 4.1-7.5mya). We also report notable range extensions of B. m. sinensis as well as sympatry between this taxon and B. m. cruralis in Sichuan Province, China. Brachypteryx m. montana from Java is found to be more closely related to Lesser Shortwing (B. leucophris) and Rusty-bellied Shortwing (B. hyperythra) than to the mainland Asian and Taiwanese taxa.ConclusionOur data support a recent proposal to treat the three mainland Asian and Taiwanese taxa as three species, separate from B. montana sensu stricto: B. cruralis (central Himalayas to south central China and south Vietnam), B. sinensis (north central to southeastern part of mainland China) and B. goodfellowi (Taiwan Island).

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