Species Limits and Systematics in Some Passerine Birds

Sammanfattning: I use morphological, vocal, molecular, behavioural, ecological and distributional data to re-evaluate the systematics of three passerine bird groups, the Mirafraassamica complex (bush-larks), the genus Seicercus ("spectacled-warblers"; with emphasis on the the S. burkii complex) and the genus Motacilla (wagtails). Two new species are described: Seicercus soror and Motacilla samveasnae. I propose that the polytypic species M. assamica should be treated as four separate species: M. assamica, M. affinis, M. microptera and M. marionae (it is also remarked that the proper name of the latter is M. erythrocephala). That is primarily supported by vocalisations and mitochondrial DNA. The latter data set also suggests that M. assamica sensu lato is paraphyletic, since M. erythroptera, which is always treated as a separate species, is nested within the M. assamica complex. I propose that the polytypic species S. burkii comprises six sibling species. Some of these are found to breed sympatrically, although mainly or entirely segregated altitudinally. Mitochondrial DNA suggests that the S. burkii complex is non-monophyletic, and also that the divergence of the different taxa is much older than indicated by morphological and vocal data. According to the molecular phylogeny, both the genera Seicercus and its assumed sister genus Phylloscopus are paraphyletic. That is corroborated by independent data. The phylogenetic study of the genus Motacilla reveals incongruence between mitochondrial DNA, nuclear DNA and non-molecular data. I conclude that the nuclear gene tree reflects the organismal phylogeny more faithfully than the mitochondrial gene tree. The latter is likely to have been affected by introgressive hybridisation, possibly also stochastic lineage sorting. The most remarkable result that is strongly supported by both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA is that M. flava is non-monophyletic.