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Cross-species utility of 22 microsatellite markers in the Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta)

Posted on 11. August, 2014.

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The Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta) and the Icterine Warbler (H. icterina) are small, long distance migrating passerines breeding in open to semi-open scrublands or open woodland in the Western Palaearctic.

The distributions of both species are parapatric with a narrow contact zone spanning throughout West and Central Europe, where both species hybridise occasionally. The Melodious Warbler occurs west of the contact zone covering large parts of southwestern Europe and coastal Maghreb. The Icterine Warbler occurs east of the contact zone and covers most of Eastern Europe to southern Scandinavia and the Ural. For at least 70 years the Melodious Warbler has been expanding its range north-eastwards, whereas the boundary of the western range of the Icterine Warbler has been receding in the same direction.

Recent range shifts of extant species are interesting model systems to study the evolutionary and genetic consequences of global change, including, for example, founder effects, hybridisation and niche evolution. However, natural range expansions of indigenous species over large distances and within a short timescale are–with the exception of invasive species–rather rare events but of increased interest for empirical studies. Due to detailed documentation of the range expansion of the Melodious Warbler in the past, this species provides an ideal model organism to study both extrinsic (e.g. effects of climate change or interspecific interaction) and intrinsic factors (e.g. genetic or behavioural effects) that might facilitate range expansion in this species. 

Read the complete article in Avian Biology Research, Volume 7, Number 2, May 2014, pp. 91-98.

Authors: Jan O. Engler, Jean Secondi, Deborah A.Dawson, David Roderus, Ortwin Elle and Axel Hochkirch



Image: Melodious Warbler courtesy of Alba Casals Mitja