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Molecular assessment of the distribution and taxonomy of the Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca complex in Iran, with particular emphasis on the identity of the contentious taxon, zagrossiensis Sarudny, 1911

Journal article
Authors R. Abdilzadeh
M. Aliabadian
Urban Olsson
Published in Journal of Ornithology
Volume 161
Pages 665-676
ISSN 2193-7192
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 665-676
Language en
Keywords Species limits, althaea, halimodendri, Zagros mountains, Phylogeny, Taxonomy, phylogeny, evolution, samples, Zoology
Subject categories Zoology


The Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca complex continues to provide challenges for ornithologists and taxonomists. One of the remaining outstanding questions concerns the taxonomic identity of the different breeding populations in Iran and in particular zagrossiensis, which inhabits the Zagros mountains. We here used the three mitochondrial genes cyt b, COI and ND2, to evaluate samples of the Lesser Whitethroat complex from Iran. Our data include predominantly samples from the breeding season, and we find evidence of three taxa from Iran, of which two are certainly breeding; althaea from Kopet Dagh in NE Iran and the Kerman mountains, east of the Zagros mountains, SE Iran; and curruca from central Zagros mountains and northwestern Iran. Three samples of halimodendri from the south of Iran were migrating or wintering birds. The taxonomically contentious population from the Zagros mountains is here identified as belonging to the curruca clade, and evidence to recognize zagrossiensis based on molecular data is deemed insufficient.

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