Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 154, Issue 2, pp 329–337 | Cite as

Molecular genetic and bioacoustic differentiation of Pnoepyga Wren-babblers

  • Martin Päckert
  • Jochen Martens
  • Wei Liang
  • Yu-Cheng Hsu
  • Yue-Hua Sun
Original Article


We reconstructed a molecular phylogeny for all four species of the wren-babbler genus Pnoepyga and added a comparative analysis of their territorial songs. The genus is divided into two species pairs which can also be distinguished by ecological and bioacoustic features. One species pair, Pnoepyga albiventer and P. formosana, occupies the higher forested mountain elevations of the Sino-Himalayas and Taiwan and shares broad-banded songs with a marked element-type variation. The second species pair, Pnoepyga pusilla and P. immaculata, occupies median and low mountain elevations of the Sino-Himalayas, continental Southeast Asia, and the Sunda region and has characteristic narrow-banded whistled songs. Intraspecific variation of molecular and bioacoustic markers in P. albiventer was conspicuous among individuals from Nepal and those from the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Hubei. A third distinct genetic lineage of P. albiventer was found in Myanmar. We suggest that the Chinese form be ranked as a separate species Pnoepyga mutica Thayer & Bangs, 1912.


Wren-babblers Pnoepyga Molecular phylogeny Territorial song Discriminant analysis Cluster analysis 


Molekulargenetische und bioakustische Differenzierung der Pnoepyga -Moostimalien

In einer molekularen Phylogenie und einer Analyse der Territorialgesänge der Moostimalien, Gattung Pnoepyga, gliedern sich die vier Arten sowohl nach genetischen als auch nach akustischen und ökologischen Befunden in zwei Gruppen zu je zwei Arten. Das eine Artenpaar mit P. albiventer und P. formosana lebt in den höheren bewaldeten Gebirgsabschnitten der Sino-Himalayanischen Region und Taiwans. Ihre Gesänge sind breitbandig. Das andere Artenpaar bestehend aus P. pusilla und P. immaculata besiedelt die mittlere und untere Gebirgszone der Sino-Himalayanischen Region, des südostasiatischen Festlandes und Teilen des Sunda-Archipels, mit Beschränkung von P. immaculata auf den zentralen Himalaya. Beide Arten zeichnen sich durch schmalbandige Pfiffgesänge aus. Individuelle Variabilität der Gesänge des einzelnen Männchens ist äußerst gering. Intraspezifische Variabilität der genetischen und der akustischen Merkmale von P. albiventer ist bemerkenswert hoch und betrifft die Populationen Nepals einerseits und jene der chinesischen Provinzen Sichuan und Hubei andererseits. Diese Unterschiede werden als gravierend angesehen und die Populationen Chinas folglich als eigene Spezies gewertet, Pnoepyga mutica Thayer & Bangs, 1912.



We thank Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft (DO-G; China grant to A. Gebauer, M. Kaiser and J.M.) and Gesellschaft für Tropenornithologie (GTO) for travel and lab funds for the Taiwan bird project at SNSD. J. Martens received annual travel grants from Feldbausch Foundation and Wagner Foundation at Fachbereich Biologie of Mainz University for field research in Asia. For additional song recordings and helpful information, we thank P. Holt. Bin Yen Hsu, Jerome Chien and Wen Yin Hu kindly assisted the sound recordings in the field on Taiwan. M. Gelang provided first information on primer pairs and PCR conditions. This study was supported by grants of the National Natural Science Foundation of China to Sun Y.-H. (30620130110).

Supplementary material

10336_2012_897_MOESM1_ESM.doc (34 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 34 kb)
10336_2012_897_MOESM2_ESM.doc (160 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 160 kb)


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Päckert
    • 1
  • Jochen Martens
    • 2
  • Wei Liang
    • 3
  • Yu-Cheng Hsu
    • 4
  • Yue-Hua Sun
    • 5
  1. 1.Senckenberg Naturhistorische SammlungenMuseum für TierkundeDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Institut für ZoologieJohannes Gutenberg-UniversitätMainzGermany
  3. 3.College of Life SciencesHainan Normal UniversityHaikouChina
  4. 4.Department of National Resources and Environmental StudiesNational Dong Hwa UniversityHualienTaiwan
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservation, Institute of ZoologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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