, Volume 145, Issue 3, pp 206-222
Date: 17 Jun 2004

Radiation and species limits in the Asian Pallas’s warbler complex (Phylloscopus proregulus s.l.)*

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Pallas’s Warbler (Phylloscopus proregulus) of the Eastern Palaearctic (Siberia, China, Himalayas) resolves into a complex of four closely related but distinct allospecies forming a superspecies, P. [proregulus]. Assignment of species rank is based on cytochrome-b gene sequences and on vocalisations (territorial song and calls). Morphological divergence is poor, as is typical in Phylloscopus. It applies to size (nominate Siberian proregulus as opposed to the Sino-Himalayan taxa), and slight coloration differences among the latter taxa do not correspond to the cyt-b topology and are considered to be adaptive. Vocal differences relate to syntax (verse song vs endless song), frequency (broad vs narrow bandwidth, allocation of elements within the frequency band), form of elements (ascending vs descending parts, combination of these), and repertoire size. Strong premating isolating mechanisms are assigned to vocalisations. Contrary to current taxonomy, we propose the following constituent taxa of the Phylloscopus [proregulus] complex: Phylloscopus proregulus s.str. (Siberia, disjunct from the following taxa), P. kansuensis (China: Gansu, Qinghai), P. forresti (W/SW China, part of E Himalayas?), P. chloronotus with two subspecies: P. c. simlaensis (W Himalayas), and P. c. chloronotus (C and E Himalayas). Contact zones and possible hybridisation between the Sino-Himalayan taxa remain undetermined. A closely related isospecies is Phylloscopus yunnanensis (syn. P. sichuanensis), which is locally sympatric with and extremely similar morphologically to P. forresti and P. kansuensis. Cyt-b distance values range from 3.1% to 4.6% within the P. proregulus complex and from 7.5% to 8.4% between the latter and P. yunnanensis. This corresponds to differentiation times of 4.1 to 5.5 Myears (P. proregulus complex vs P. yunnanensis) and 1.7 to 3.2 Myears (within the P. proregulus complex).