Journal article

Cryptic speciation in the Lesser Elaenia Elaenia chiriquensis (Aves: Passeriformes: Tyrannidae)

Frank E Rheindt, Niels Krabbe, Alison KS Wee, Les Christidis

ZOOTAXA | MAGNOLIA PRESS | Published : 2015


Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae) are a taxonomically confusing bird group containing a large degree of cryptic diversity that has only recently begun to be unraveled through the application of acoustic and molecular methods. We investigated all three subspecies of the Lesser Elaenia, Elaenia chiriquensis Lawrence, across their range using sound recordings as well as nuclear and mitochondrial markers. We show that two of the three subspecies, the nominate race from southern Central America and the widespread South American subspecies E. c. albivertex Pelzeln, have undergone very low levels of vocal and molecular differentiation across their fragmented range. In contrast, the isolated taxon E. ..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by National University of Singapore Department of Biological Sciences start-up grant

Awarded by National University of Singapore Department of Faculty of Science start-up grant

Funding Acknowledgements

This contribution is dedicated to the memory of Paul Coopmans, who met his untimely death in January 2007. His suggestion that brachyptera is vocally distinct was the primary trigger for FER to pursue DNA material of the taxon. We owe a special deal of gratitude to John Moore and Robert Ridgely for helpful suggestions and comments. We thank Bret M. Whitney for first pointing out, in 1992, the distinctive vocalizations of brachyptera, and Dusan Brinkhuizen and Luis Salagaje for help in field identification or locating of brachyptera in eastern Ecuador. We thank the following people and institutions for kindly lending us Elaenia tissue for DNA analysis: Donna Dittmann and Robb Brumfield (Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Sciences), David Willard and Shannon Hackett (Field Museum of Natural History), Paul Sweet (American Museum of Natural History), Christopher Huddleston (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History), Cristina Miyaki and Gustavo Sebastian Cabanne (Laboratorio de Genetica e Evolucao Molecular de Aves, Universidade de Sao Paulo) and Jon Fjeldsa (Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen). This work was supported by the following grants to FER: a National University of Singapore Department of Biological Sciences start-up grant (WBS R-154-000-583-651) and Faculty of Science start-up grant (WBS R-154-000-570-133); the Joseph Grinnell Student Research Award awarded by the Cooper Ornithological Society; Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research; and Museum Victoria 1854 Student Scholarship. Labwork was partly funded by the Ian Potter Foundation and Amersham Biosciences (now GE Healthcare).