Conservation Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 1283–1298

Stepping stone speciation in Hawaii’s flycatchers: molecular divergence supports new island endemics within the elepaio

  • Eric A. VanderWerf
  • Lindsay C. Young
  • Norine W. Yeung
  • David B. Carlon
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10592-009-9958-1

Cite this article as:
VanderWerf, E.A., Young, L.C., Yeung, N.W. et al. Conserv Genet (2010) 11: 1283. doi:10.1007/s10592-009-9958-1

Abstract

The elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis) is a monarch flycatcher endemic to the Hawaiian Islands of Kauai, Oahu, and Hawaii. Elepaio vary in morphology among and within islands, and five subspecies are currently recognized. We investigated phylogeography of elepaio using mitochondrial (ND2) and nuclear (LDH) markers and population structure within Hawaii using ND2 and microsatellites. Phylogenetic analyses revealed elepaio on each island formed reciprocally monophyletic groups, with Kauai ancestral to other elepaio. Sequence divergence in ND2 among islands (3.02–2.21%) was similar to that in other avian sibling species. Estimation of divergence times using relaxed molecular clock models indicated elepaio colonized Kauai 2.33 million years ago (95% CI 0.92–3.87 myr), Oahu 0.69 (0.29–1.19) myr ago, and Hawaii 0.49 (0.21–0.84) myr ago. LDH showed less variation than ND2 and was not phylogenetically informative. Analysis of molecular variance within Hawaii showed structure at ND2 (fixation index = 0.31), but microsatellites showed no population structure. Genetic, morphological, and behavioral evidence supports splitting elepaio into three species, one on each island, but does not support recognition of subspecies within Hawaii or other islands. Morphological variation in elepaio has evolved at small geographic scales within islands due to short dispersal distances and steep climatic gradients. Divergence has been limited by lack of dispersal barriers in the extensive forest that once covered each island, but anthropogenic habitat fragmentation and declines in elepaio population size are likely to decrease gene flow and accelerate differentiation, especially on Oahu.

Keywords

ChasiempisElepaioHawaiiPhylogeographyPopulation structureRelaxed clock

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric A. VanderWerf
    • 1
  • Lindsay C. Young
    • 2
  • Norine W. Yeung
    • 2
  • David B. Carlon
    • 2
  1. 1.Pacific Rim ConservationHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology Program, Department of ZoologyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA