The genus Oenanthe comprises approximately 22 species, of which 16 species are restricted to the desert belt of the Palaearctic and Afrotropic regions, where they are often the most conspicuous passerines. Although they have been the subjects of some morphological and ecological studies, no complete morphometrical data has been used to verify their taxonomic relationships, and, the species relationships are still debated. Overall morphometrical similarities between Wheatears and their relationships in size and shape were assessed using measurements of 27 biometrical variables on 417 museum specimens. The 22 Wheatear species comprise some morphological groups: long migratory vegetation-tolerant species (O. pleschanka, O. hispanica, O. cypriaca and O. deserti), ground-dwelling migratory (O. isabellina and O. oenanthe), and sedentary (O. bottae, O. heuglini and O. pileata) of steppe-like habitants, relatively heavy and rock-dwelling species (O. leucura and O. monticola), inhabiting the most arid areas (O. monacha, O. leucopyga and O. alboniger), and finally a central core of medium-sized partial migrants, largely overlapping in morphometric space, that do not present any evident specialization (O. lugens, O. chrysopygia, O. xanthoprymna and O. finschii). It seems Wheatear species are well distributed in a morpho-space of size and shape with moderate overlaps and few hiatuses corresponding to a morphological continuum of species. Furthermore, our results largely hiatuses corresponding to a morphological continuum of species. Furthermore, our results largely differ from previous phylogenetic hypotheses (based on ecological, behavioural, and chromatic characters), but, are in congruence with molecular data.
Russian Journal of Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: May 15, 2013
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