Evolution and genetic structure of the Great tit (Parus major) complex

Kvist L., Martens J., Higuchi Y., Nazarenko A., Valchuk O., Orell M.

В журнале Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Год: 2003 Том: 270 Страницы: 1447-1454

The great tit complex is divided into four groups, each containing several subspecies. Even though the groups are known to differ markedly on morphological, vocal and behavioural characters, some hybridization occurs in the regions where they meet. The great tit has often been referred to as an example of a ring species, although this has later been questioned. Here, we have studied the genetic structure and phylogenetic relationships of the subspecies groups to clarify the evolutionary history of the complex using control region sequences of the mitochondrial DNA. The subspecies groups were found to be monophyletic and clearly distinct in mitochondrial haplotypes, and therefore must have had long-independent evolutionary histories. This conflicts with the ring species assignment and supports the formation of secondary contact zones of previously temporarily isolated groups. According to the phylogenetic species concept, all the subspecies groups could be considered as separate species, but if the definition of the biological species concept is followed, none of the subspecies groups is a true species because hybridization still occurs.

DOI 10.1098/rspb.2002.2321