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Data from: Intermediate habitat associations by hybrids may facilitate genetic introgression in a songbird

Cite this dataset

Wood, Eric M. et al. (2015). Data from: Intermediate habitat associations by hybrids may facilitate genetic introgression in a songbird [Dataset]. Dryad.


Hybridization or the interbreeding of genetically discrete populations or species can occur where ranges of genetically distinct units overlap. Golden-winged warblers Vermivora chrysoptera, a species that has been in steady decline for decades, highlight the potential population-level consequences of hybridization. A major factor implicated in their decline is hybridization with their sister species, the blue-winged warbler Vermivora cyanoptera, which has likely been exacerbated by historic and current land-use practices. We examined habitat associations of golden-winged and blue-winged warblers, phenotypic hybrids, and cryptic hybrids (i.e. mismatch between plumage phenotype and genotype as identified by mitochondrial DNA) in an area of relatively recent range overlap and hybridization in northern New York, USA. To explore the robustness of these results, we then compared the patterns from New York with habitat associations from the central Pennsylvanian Appalachian Mountains where blue-winged warblers either do not occur or are in very low abundance, yet cryptic golden-winged warbler hybrids are present. From 2008 to 2011, we captured 122 birds in New York and 28 in Pennsylvania and collected blood samples, which we used to determine maternal ancestry. For each bird captured, we measured territory-level (50-m radius circles) habitat, and later used remote-sensing data to quantify habitat on the territories and in surrounding areas (100-, 250-, and 500-m radius circles). In New York, golden-winged warblers occupied structurally heterogeneous territories surrounded by homogeneously structured, contiguous deciduous forest, far from urban areas. Blue-winged warblers showed opposite associations, and hybrids’ habitat associations were typically intermediate. In Pennsylvania, the habitat associations of golden-winged warblers and their cryptic hybrids were remarkably similar to those in New York. These findings suggest that patterns of habitat occupancy by hybrids may promote contact with golden-winged warblers and thus likely facilitate genetic introgression, even in areas where the parental species are not sympatric.

Usage notes


New York
United States of America