Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 145, Issue 4, pp 352–355 | Cite as

Chemistry of the uropygial gland secretion of Hume’s ground jay Pseudopodoces humilis and its taxonomic implications

  • Axel Gebauer
  • Jürgen Jacob
  • Martin Kaiser
  • Siegfried Eck
Short Note


Hume’s ground jay (Pseudopodoces humilis), a species living in the high altitude steppes of the Qinghai-Tibet-Plateau (China), was traditionally thought to be a ground jay related to the genus Podoces (Corvidae). Recently, however, based on three independent datasets (comparative osteology, nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences), this species was discovered to be a member of the Paridae. Here, we reinvestigate the systematic position of Pseudopodoces humilis using the chemical composition of uropygial gland secretions, which have previously been shown to be phylogenetically informative in birds, including Corvidae and Paridae. We found strong similarities in the fatty acid composition of uropygial gland secretions between Pseudopodoces humilis and parids, but clear differences from corvids. This result supports the parid affinites of Pseudopodoces, but stands in contrast to behavioural and vocal characteristics which are clearly more similar to corvids than to parids.


Bird taxonomy Qinghai-Tibet-Plateau Uropygial gland secretion 



We would like to thank the taxidermists of the Museum für Tierkunde Dresden for the extraction of the uropygial gland. The chemical analysis of the uropygial gland secretion was financially supported by the Research Fund of Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft. Our thanks go to Prof. Jochen Martens (Mainz) for valuable comments on the manuscript and to Marina Proutkina for help with the translation.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V.  2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Axel Gebauer
    • 1
  • Jürgen Jacob
    • 2
  • Martin Kaiser
    • 3
  • Siegfried Eck
    • 4
  1. 1.Naturschutz-Tierpark GörlitzGörlitzGermany
  2. 2.HamburgGermany
  3. 3.Tierpark Berlin FriedrichsfeldeBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Staatliche Naturhistorische SammlungenTierkundemuseumDresdenGermany

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