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Molecular Species Delimitation of Larks (Aves: Alaudidae), and Integrative Taxonomy of the Genus Calandrella, with the Description of a Range-Restricted African Relic Taxon

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Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab, Department of Biology, Lund University, Ecology Building, 223 62 Lund, Sweden
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A. P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute, PO Box 13404, 930421 Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria
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Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IE²), University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-5289, USA
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Bird Group, Department of Life Sciences, The Natural History Museum, Tring, Hertfordshire HP23 6AP, UK
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Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Box 463, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden
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Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre, Box 461, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden
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Department of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
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Animal Ecology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18 D, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
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Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics and Evolution, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
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Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(11), 428; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12110428
Received: 19 October 2020 / Revised: 11 November 2020 / Accepted: 12 November 2020 / Published: 13 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Phylogeny and Evolution)
Larks constitute an avian family of exceptional cryptic diversity and striking examples of convergent evolution. Therefore, traditional morphology-based taxonomy has recurrently failed to reflect evolutionary relationships. While taxonomy ideally should integrate morphology, vocalizations, behaviour, ecology, and genetics, this can be challenging for groups that span several continents including areas that are difficult to access. Here, we combine morphometrics and mitochondrial DNA to evaluate the taxonomy of Calandrella larks, with particular focus on the African C. cinerea and the Asian C. acutirostris complexes. We describe a new range-restricted West African taxon, Calandrella cinerea rufipecta ssp. nov. (type locality: Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria), with an isolated relic population 3000 km from its closest relative in the Rift Valley. We performed molecular species delimitation, employing coalescence-based multi-rate Poisson Tree Processes (mPTP) on cytochrome b sequences across 52 currently recognized lark species, including multiple taxa currently treated as subspecies. Three species-level splits were inferred within the genus Calandrella and another 13 across other genera, primarily among fragmented sub-Saharan taxa and taxa distributed from Northwest Africa to Arabia or East Africa. Previously unknown divergences date back as far as to the Miocene, indicating the presence of currently unrecognized species. However, we stress that taxonomic decisions should not be based on single datasets, such as mitochondrial DNA, although analyses of mitochondrial DNA can be a good indicator of taxa in need of further integrative taxonomic assessment. View Full-Text
Keywords: cryptic species; fragmented distribution; morphology; phylogeny; sequence-based species delimitation cryptic species; fragmented distribution; morphology; phylogeny; sequence-based species delimitation
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    Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.4104677
    Link: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4104677
    Description: Data deposition containing Input and output files of phylogenetic and species delimitation analyses.
MDPI and ACS Style

Stervander, M.; Hansson, B.; Olsson, U.; Hulme, M.F.; Ottosson, U.; Alström, P. Molecular Species Delimitation of Larks (Aves: Alaudidae), and Integrative Taxonomy of the Genus Calandrella, with the Description of a Range-Restricted African Relic Taxon. Diversity 2020, 12, 428.

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