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Taxonomy of Naumann’s and dusky, red-throated and black-throated thrush complexes (Aves: Turdidae) using morphological and molecular characteristics

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-26, 07:39 authored by Boyang An, Danyang Yin, Songlin Huang, Nassoro Mohamed, Bo Li

Species are the basic units in evolution and biodiversity and thus a reasonable species classification is essential to assess and protect biodiversity. The classifications of the Naumann’s and dusky thrush complexes and the red-throated and black-throated thrush complexes are not well defined in Turdidae (Aves, Passeriformes). Herein, we use qualitative and quantitative morphological characters and molecular data to review the taxonomy of these thrush complexes. These four thrushes can be distinguished with qualitative features of feather color and striping. These birds cannot be divided by quantitative features, which only work on two groups of thrush complexes. Phylogenetic analysis based on mitochondrial genes indicate that all haplotypes might be divided into two monophyletic clades corresponding to two groups of thrush complexes. According to coalescence-based species delimitation and the gen-morph species concept, these two groups of thrush complexes should be separated as two distinctive species (T. naumanni and T. ruficollis) and including two subspecies per species. This species classification is also supported by gene flow analysis. There is a significant mixing between these two thrush species in the neighbor-joining (NJ) tree and the cluster analysis using a few microsatellite loci. This leads to a pattern of nuclear–mitochondrial discordance between the two birds that can be explained by several potential mechanisms. This study provides the first comprehensive classification of the two thrush complexes on a population level using morphological and molecular characteristics, which will be useful in expanding our understanding of species division among thrush complexes.


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