Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 147, Issue 3, pp 448–456 | Cite as

Rhodopechys obsoleta (desert finch): a pale ancestor of greenfinches (Carduelis spp.) according to molecular phylogeny

  • Jorge Zamora
  • Ernesto Lowy
  • Valentin Ruiz-del-Valle
  • Juan Moscoso
  • Juan Ignacio Serrano-Vela
  • Juan Rivero-de-Aguilar
  • Antonio Arnaiz-VillenaEmail author
Original Article


The evolutionary history of three out of four birds traditionally classified into the genus Rhodopechys birds has been studied by comparing their mitochondrial cytochrome b DNA sequence with that of greenfinches and other genus Carduelis finches. The desert finch (Rhodopechys obsoleta) or a sister extinct species seems to have existed about 6 million years ago in Asian and perhaps African desert-like areas. This bird has no molecular relationship with other Rhodopechys birds and seems to have given rise to the greenfinches radiation, probably by allopatry of marginal or isolated groups; the latter would have evolved to green plumage colours and more simple song modulations (i.e., greenfinches). The possible role of assortative mating and the newly postulated acquired phenotypic characters in greenfinches speciation are discussed.


Carduelis Desert finch mtDNA Phylogeny Rhodopechys Greenfinch 



This work was supported by grants from the Spanish Ministry of Science PM-1999-23 and BMC-2001-1299 Mufua Madrilen̄a Automovilista, and was in agreement with all the laws valid in the countries where samples were taken. We are also indebted to the following Spanish ornithologists: Bernardino Yebes, Guillermo Cabrera Amat, Gloria Gardó, Francisco Mira Chinchilla, Arturo Fernandez Cagiao and Álvaro Guillén.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jorge Zamora
    • 1
  • Ernesto Lowy
    • 1
  • Valentin Ruiz-del-Valle
    • 1
  • Juan Moscoso
    • 1
  • Juan Ignacio Serrano-Vela
    • 1
  • Juan Rivero-de-Aguilar
    • 1
  • Antonio Arnaiz-Villena
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Immunology and Molecular BiologyUniversidad ComplutenseMadridSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Microbiología I (Inmunología), Facultad de MedicinaUniversidad ComplutenseMadridSpain

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