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A tale of two wagtails: Incongruence between phenotypic patterns and genetic differentiation in the Yellow and Citrine Wagtails
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Biology Education Centre. (Per Alström)
2023 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The Yellow Wagtail complex, comprising the Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) and the Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla tschutschensis) are broadly distributed Palearctic passerine species. This complex is remarkably polytypic, presenting 15 recognized subspecies, most of which show a distinct male head plumage pattern. Their phenotypic variation and the appearance of similar-looking phenotypes in widely separated geographical areas make this species complex and particularly interesting to study the speciation process and evolution of plumage coloration. However, while trying to clarify the taxonomy of this complex, previous studies using different molecular datasets have recovered the Citrine Wagtail (M. citreola) either as nested within the yellow wagtail complex or as a sister to the yellow wagtails. These results were puzzling as the Citrine Wagtail is sympatric with both yellow wagtail species, with many morphological differences, suggesting strong reproductive barriers. The uncertainty in previous phylogenetic reconstructions motivated this study to take a deeper look into the causes behind the incongruences between gene trees and the species tree with the goal of identifying the evolutionary relationships between the Yellow and Citrine Wagtails. I employed phylogenetic analysis using whole genome SNPs and population structure analyses and tests to detect introgression and incomplete lineage sorting (ILS). Phylogenetic reconstructions always found the Citrine Wagtail nested within the yellow wagtail complex and confirmed high heterogeneity across gene trees. Our results found introgression and ILS to be present among the Yellow and Citrine Wagtails, with a high chance of being the leading causes behind gene tree discordance in this group, making the identification of the species tree challenging. All three possible topologies were recovered across the genome. In two of them, the yellow wagtails were paraphyletic; in one, there was reciprocal monophyly between the Citrine and Yellow Wagtails. Lastly, we found M. tschutschensis plexa, a subspecies of the Eastern Yellow wagtail, as an intergrade between the Western Yellow Wagtail and the Eastern Yellow Wagtail. These results have taken us a step closer to being able to solve the relationships between Citrine Wagtail and yellow wagtails, as they have given us a deeper perspective into their evolutionary history. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023.
Keywords [en]
Wagtails, Evolution, Systematics, Introgression, Speciation
National Category
Zoology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-511088OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-511088DiVA, id: diva2:1794982
Educational program
Master Programme in Biology
Presentation
2023-05-24, 09:40 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2023-09-08 Created: 2023-09-07 Last updated: 2023-09-08Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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