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Historical Biogeography of the Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) in the Caribbean Region: A Mitchondrial DNA Assessment

Gilles Seutin, Nedra K. Klein, Robert E. Ricklefs and Eldredge Bermingham
Evolution
Vol. 48, No. 4 (Aug., 1994), pp. 1041-1061
DOI: 10.2307/2410365
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410365
Page Count: 21
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Historical Biogeography of the Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) in the Caribbean Region: A Mitchondrial DNA Assessment
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Abstract

We analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) restriction-site variation in bananaquit (Coereba flaveola; Aves, Coerebinae) populations sampled on 12 Caribbean islands and at 5 continental localities in Central America and northern South America. Multiple fixed restriction-site differences genetically defined several regional bananaquit populations. An mtDNA clade representing all Jamaican bananaquits was the most divergent; the estimated average sequence divergence (dxy) between Jamaican and all other mtDNA haplotypes surveyed was 0.027. Three groups of populations, representing Central America, northern South America, and the eastern Antilles (Puerto Rico to Grenada) were nearly equally differentiated among themselves (average dxy = 0.014), and may represent a single, recent range expansion. Within the eastern Antilles, three geographically restricted haplotype groups were identified: Puerto Rico, north-central Lesser Antilles (U.S. Virgin Islands to St. Lucia), and Grenada-St. Vincent. The evolutionary relationships of these groups were not clear. Genetic homogeneity of the island populations from the U.S. Virgin Islands to St. Lucia suggested a recent spread of a specific north-central Lesser Antillean haplotype through most of those islands. Haplotype variation across this region indicated that this spread may have occurred in two waves, first through the southernmost islands of St. Lucia, Martinique, and Dominica, and more recently from Guadeloupe to the north. The geographic distribution of mtDNA haplotypes, and of bananaquit populations, suggests periods of invasiveness followed by relative geographic quiescence. Although most genetic studies of bird populations have revealed homogeneity over large geographic areas, our findings provide a remarkable counterexample of strong geographic structuring of mtDNA variation over relatively small distances. Furthermore, although the mtDNA data were consistent with several subspecific distinctions, it was clear that named subspecies do not define equally differentiated evolutionary entities.

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