Friday, July 19, 2019

[Ornithology • 2019] Multiple Species within the Striated Prinia Prinia crinigeraBrown Prinia P. polychroa complex revealed through An Integrative Taxonomic Approach

(a-b) Prinia polychroa deignani 
(a) Sakaerat Environmental Research Station, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand, presumed female (DZUG 3547); 
(b) Thung Kamang, Phu Khieo, Chaiyaphum Prov., Thailand, (photo: );

(c) P. polychroa cooki Bagan, Myanmar; ( d) P. polychroa rocki Di Linh town, Da Lat Plateau, Lam Dong, Vietnam.

in Alström, Rasmussen, Sangster, Dalvi, Round, et al., 2019. 
(photos: Dave Sargeant, James Eaton & Le Manh Hung)

We re‐evaluated the taxonomy of the Striated Prinia Prinia crinigera‐Brown Prinia P. polychroa complex using molecular, morphological and vocal analyses. The extensive seasonal, sexual, age‐related, geographic, and taxon‐specific variation in this complex has never before been adequately studied. As no previous genetic or vocal analyses focused on this group, misinterpretation of taxonomic signals from limited conventional morphological study alone was likely. Using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, we found that P. crinigera sensu lato (s.l.) comprises two non‐sister groups of taxa (Himalayan crinigera and Chinese striata groups) that differ substantially morphologically and vocally, and that are broadly sympatric in Yunnan Province, China. Prinia polychroa cooki (Myanmar) and P. p. rocki (southern Vietnam) are each morphologically, vocally and genetically distinct. Thai, Cambodian and Laotian populations formerly ascribed to P. p. cooki are morphologically and vocally most similar to and most closely related to Javan P. p. polychroa, and require a new name, proposed here. Prinia p. bangsi of Yunnan is part of the crinigera group rather than of P. polychroa, and hence there is no evidence for sympatry between P. polychroa s.l. and P. crinigera s.l., nor of the occurrence of P. polychroa in mainland China or Taiwan. We recommend the recognition of five species in the complex, with the following suggestions for new English names: Himalayan Prinia P. crinigera sensu stricto (s.s.; with subspecies striatula, crinigera, yunnanensis and bangsi); Chinese Prinia P. striata (subspecies catharia, parumstriata and striata); Burmese Prinia P. cooki (monotypic); Annam Prinia P. rocki (monotypic); and Deignan's Prinia P. polychroa s.s. (subspecies Javan polychroa and the new Southeast Asian taxon). This study underscores the importance of using multiple data sets for the elucidation of diversity of cryptic bird species and their evolutionary history and biogeography.

Keywords: Cisticolidae, Sylvioidea, biodiversity, phylogeography, vocalizations, systematics, DNA, morphology

Figure 5 . Prinia polychroa ‘core cooki’ (here described as a new subspecies) ( a) Sakaerat Environmental Research Station, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand, 4 Jan 2014, presumed female (DZUG 3547); ( b) Thung Kamang, Phu Khieo, Chaiyaphum Prov., Thailand, 4 Feb 2012 (Dave Sargeant);
( c) P. polychroa cooki Bagan, Myanmar, 5 Apr 2016 (James Eaton); ( d) P. polychroa rocki Di Linh town, Da Lat Plateau, Lam Dong, Vietnam, 9 Jan 2017 (Le Manh Hung); 
( e) P. crinigera yunnanensis Bhutan, Mar 2017 (Shashank Dalvi); ( f) Prinia crinigera catharia Wenzhou, Zhejiang Prov., China, 20 Jul 2013 (Meijie Dai).


Prinia polychroa deignani, subsp. nov.
Sakaerat Environmental Research Station, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand,
4 Jan 2014, presumed female (DZUG 3547)

Prinia polychroa deignani, subsp. nov.

Distribution. Examined specimens of Prinia p. deignani are listed in Table 3 and Table S1, along with documented photographs and sound recordings. Based on these data, the new subspecies is confirmed to occur in scattered localities in northwest, central and eastern Thailand, southwestern Laos, and northwestern Cambodia. A sequenced specimen from Cambodia (NHMUK 1928.6.26.1198) is very similar in cyt b to the two sequenced Thai specimens.

 Etymology. We wish to honour Herbert Girton Deignan (1906 –1968) for his contributions to understanding of this complex specifically, and to Thai birds in general, by naming this new subspecies after him.

Based on our integrative taxonomic approach, analysing morphology, songs, DNA and geographical distributions, we recommend recognition of five species in the Prinia crinigera s.l. - P. polychroa s.l. complex, and suggest the following English names : Himalayan Prinia P. crinigera s.s. (with four subspecies) ; Chinese Prinia P. striata (with three subspecies) ; Burmese Prinia P. cooki (monotypic); Annam Prinia P. rocki (monotypic) and Deignan’s Prinia P. polychroa s.s. (with two subspecies), as summarised in Table 1 . We found no evidence that P. polychroa s.l. or s.s. occurs in mainland China , Taiwan, or India, or that P. striata occurs in India. Acceptance of this revision implies the existence of two new single - country endemics: P. cooki from Myanmar, and P. rocki from Vietnam. Prinia striata becomes endemic to mainland China and Taiwan. 

We describe a new subspecies of P. polychroa s.s., from Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. This study highlights the importance of taxonomic revisions of poorly studied polytypic birds using a modern integrative taxonomic approach to better estimate the true diversity of bird species.


Per Alström, Pamela C. Rasmussen, George Sangster, Shashank Dalvi, Philip D. Round, Ruying Zhang, Cheng‐Te Yao, Martin Irestedt, Hung Le Manh, Fumin Lei and Urban Olsson. 2019. Multiple Species within the Striated Prinia Prinia crinigera‐Brown Prinia P. polychroa complex revealed through An Integrative Taxonomic Approach. Ibis. DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12759 

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