Conservation genomics reveals multiple evolutionary units within Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii).

Conservation Genetics
By: , and 



The Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii) is a widespread North American species of bird that has declined since the mid-1960s primarily due to habitat modification. Throughout its range, Bell’s Vireo populations are regulated under varying degrees of protection; however, the species has never been characterized genetically. Therefore, the current taxonomy used to guide management decisions may misrepresent the true evolutionary history for the species. We sequenced 86 individuals for ND2 and genotyped 48 individuals for genome-wide SNPs to identify distinct lineages within Bell’s Vireo. Phylogenetic analyses uncovered two distinct clades that are separated in the arid southwestern United States, near the border of the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts. These clades diverged from each other approximately 1.11–2.04 mya. The timing of diversification, geographic location, and niche modeling of the east/west divergence suggest vicariance as a mode of diversification for these two lineages. Analyses of the SNP dataset provided additional resolution and indicated the Least Bell’s Vireo populations are a distinct evolutionary lineage. Our genetic evidence, together with information from morphology and behavior, suggests that the Bell’s Vireo complex involves two species, each containing two separate subspecies. This new information has implications for the federal, state and other listing status of Bell’s Vireo throughout its range.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Conservation genomics reveals multiple evolutionary units within Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii).
Series title Conservation Genetics
DOI 10.1007/s10592-015-0796-z
Volume 17
Issue 2
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 17 p.
First page 455
Last page 471
Country United States
State Arizona, California, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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