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Cryptic speciation in the Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)

Cite this dataset

Lovell, Scott F.; Lein, M. Ross; Rogers, Sean M. (2021). Cryptic speciation in the Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus) [Dataset]. Dryad.


Eastern (Vireo gilvus gilvus) and  western (V. g. swainsoni) forms of the Warbling Vireo have essentially allopatric breeding ranges across north-central North America, but come into contact in central Alberta, Canada.  In 1986, Jon Barlow presented preliminary morphological and song evidence suggesting that the Warbling Vireo complex might comprise more than one valid species.  However, to date Barlow’s suggestion is supported by only limited DNA evidence, demonstration of molt and migration differences between the taxa, and anecdotal accounts of differences in song, morphology, plumage, and ecology.  We analyzed variation in both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA in birds from Alberta and surrounding areas to determine the levels of genetic differentiation and  hybridization occurring in the contact zone, and whether the two taxa warrant recognition as separate biological species.  Our analyses reveal that Warbling Vireos in Alberta and the surrounding areas are separated into two well-defined, genetically-differentiated, and monophyletic clades corresponding to previously-recognized taxonomic groups.  The two taxa come into contact in a narrow (~85 km) zone in Barrhead County, northwest of Edmonton, Alberta.  They show evidence of limited hybridization.  The distinct genetic differences are maintained in the contact zone, where individuals of the two taxa may occupy neighboring territories.  Differences in spring arrival dates, molt schedules and migration routes indicate that a migratory divide may play an important role in reproductive isolation.  We suggest that the two taxa are distinct cryptic species: an eastern form, Vireo gilvus, and a western form, Vireo swainsoni.

Usage notes

Data spreadsheets: AFLP data set (Lovell et al AFLP.csv); Cline analyses data set (AFLP frequencies for all loci across a contact zone transect between Warbling Vireos.) (HZARgenFreq.csv)

R Scripts for cline analyses using HZAR: RunHZAR.R; params.R; modelLoader.R; mleHelper.R ; mcmcHelper.R

README_for_Lovell et al_WAVI_DNA.docx


Alberta Conservation Association

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Award: A9690