Revealing the genetic population structure in abundant avian species is crucial for understanding speciation, conservation, and evolutionary history. The Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio
, an iconic songbird renowned for impaling its prey, is widely distributed as a breeder across much of Europe, Asia Minor and western Asia. However, in recent decades, many populations have declined significantly, as a result of habitat loss, hunting along migration routes, decrease of arthropod food, and climate change e.g., severe droughts in Africa. Within this context, gene flow among different breeding populations becomes critical to ensure the survival of the species, but we still lack an overview on the genetic diversity of the species. In this paper, we analyzed the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene (mtDNA) and the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene (mtDNA) of 132 breeding Red-backed Shrikes from across the entire breeding range to address this knowledge gap. Our results revealed consistent genetic diversity and 76 haplotypes among the Eurasian populations. Birds are clustered in two major groups, with no clear geographical separation, as a direct consequence of Pleistocene glaciations and apparent lineage mixing in refugia. This has led to genetic panmixia.
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