Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 148, Issue 4, pp 417–426 | Cite as

Molecular phylogeny of the yuhinas (Sylviidae: Yuhina): a paraphyletic group of babblers including Zosterops and Philippine Stachyris

  • Shuxia Zhang
  • Lan Yang
  • Xiaojun Yang
  • Junxing Yang
Original Article


Mitochondrial sequences (2,379 bp) from cytochrome b, ND3, 12s and 16s rRNA were analyzed in order to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships within the yuhinas (Yuhina), including the chestnut-faced babbler Stachyris whiteheadi which is endemic to the Philippines, the Japanese white-eye Zosterops japonicus, the chestnut-flanked white-eye Z. erythropleurus, and the oriental white-eye Z. palpebrosus. The results showed strong support for the idea that S.whiteheadi and three white-eye species form a clade embedded within the Yuhina clade. The robustness of the Yuhina/Philippine Stachyris/Zosterops clade rejected the validity of the monotypic genus Staphida, which was proposed for the striated yuhina Yuhina castaniceps based on its peculiar morphological traits. Sister group relationships between the striped-throated yuhina Yuhina gularis and the rufous-vented yuhina Yuhina occipitalis and between the whiskered yuhina Yuhina flavicollis and the white-naped yuhina Yuhina bakeri were discovered. The sympatric patterns of the above two sister groups in the Himalayas is most likely due to secondary contact. The molecular phylogeny also suggests that crestlessness was derived just once for the Zosterops/Philippine Stachyris clade. The Zosterops/Philippine Stachyris clade in our study also implies that an ancestor of Zosterops/Philippine Stachyris derived the ability to disperse over long distances, so that it could fly over the sea and arrive at the Philippines.


Phylogenetic analysis Mitochondrial DNA Yuhina Zosterops Stachyris 



We thank the Comparative Genomics Group, which is directed by Dr. Bing Su (Kunming Institute of Zoology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences), for providing their laboratory and kindly helping with the experiment. We would also like to thank Dr. Shou-Hsien Li and Carol Yeung (Department of Life Science, Taiwan Normal University) for providing tissue samples and providing helpful comments on the manuscript. We also thank Donna L. Dittmann (Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University) for providing tissue samples. Moe Flannery (California Academy of Sciences) kindly checked old references for us and facilitated the tissue loan from the Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University. This work was supported by the Chinese Academy of Sciences Innovation Program (KSCX2-1-09). The work was in agreement with all of the laws of the countries in which the samples were taken.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuxia Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lan Yang
    • 1
  • Xiaojun Yang
    • 1
  • Junxing Yang
    • 1
  1. 1.Kunming Institute of ZoologyThe Chinese Academy of SciencesKunmingChina
  2. 2.Graduate SchoolChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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