Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 159, Issue 2, pp 379–388 | Cite as

Vocal variation in relation to genetic structure in an Atlantic forest woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus fuscus): evolutionary and taxonomic implications

  • Natalia C. García
  • Luciano N. Naka
  • Gustavo S. Cabanne
Original Article


The analysis of intra-specific geographical variation is central to the study of the evolutionary and speciation processes, providing insights into the mechanisms leading to current diversity patterns. In the last decades, analyses of within-species variation moved its focus from phenotypic traits to the analysis of variation in genetic markers. Modern phylogeographic studies could be significantly improved by including detailed phenotypic variation analyses, allowing a better understanding of the biological processes driving similar or opposing patterns in phenotype and molecular markers differentiation. Here, we analyze vocal variation within the Lesser Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus fuscus), an Atlantic forest suboscine passerine, in relation to the genetic lineages previously described for this species. Our results show that two of the genetic clades within this species have their own vocal type, while the other two lineages share a common type. This finding supports the notion that the same events which modeled part of the genetic structure within X. fuscus also led to the accumulation of vocal differences. It also provides evidence to support the elevation of the subspecies atlanticus to a species-level taxon.


Bird song Intra-specific variation Neotropics Suboscines Subspecies 


Stimmliche Variation in Relation zur genetischen Struktur bei einer Baumsteigerart (Xiphorhynchus fuscus) atlantischer Wälder und ihre Bedeutung für Evolution und Taxonomie

Für Studien der Evolution und von Artbildungsprozessen ist die Untersuchung intraspezifischer geografischer Variation von zentraler Bedeutung und ermöglicht Rückschlüsse auf die Mechanismen, welche zu den derzeitigen Diversitätsmustern geführt haben. Bei Analysen innerartlicher Variation hat sich während der letzten Jahrzehnte der Schwerpunkt von phänotypischen Merkmalen zur Analyse der Variation genetischer Marker verlagert. Die Einbeziehung detaillierter Analysen phänotypischer Variation wäre ein signifikanter Gewinn für heutige phylogeografische Untersuchungen und würde zu einem besseren Verständnis der biologischen Prozesse führen, welche ähnliche oder entgegengesetzte Muster bei der Differenzierung phänotypischer und molekularer Marker entstehen lassen. Hier untersuchen wir die stimmliche Variation beim Blasskehl-Baumsteiger (Xiphorhynchus fuscus), einer suboszinen Singvogelart atlantischer Wälder, in Relation zu den bisher beschriebenen genetischen Abstammungslinien für diese Art. Unsere Ergebnisse zeigen, dass zwei der genetischen Kladen innerhalb der Art ihren eigenen Stimmtyp besitzen, während sich die zwei übrigen Abstammungslinien einen gemeinsamen Typ teilen. Dies bestätigt die Theorie, dass dieselben Ereignisse, welche Teile der genetischen Struktur innerhalb von X. fuscus geprägt haben, auch zur Herausbildung stimmlicher Unterschiede geführt haben. Außerdem dient dies als Beleg zur Untermauerung der Erhebung der Unterart atlanticus zu einem Taxon auf Artebene.



We thank the editor and the two anonymous reviewers for their comments, which significantly improved previous versions of the manuscript. We thank the Macaulay Library (Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology), the Fonoteca Neotropical Jacques Vielliard (Museu de Zoologia “Adão José Cardoso”–Universidade Estadual de Campinas), and the Colección Nacional de Sonidos Naturales (Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”) for providing recordings. We also thank all sound recordists who collected the recordings we used (detailed in ESM Table S1), especially Glauco Pereira, Sidnei de Melo Dantas, and Roney Assis Souzsa, for sending their recordings upon our request. We thank Ana S. Barreira, who classified recordings into song types, for her help. This work was supported by the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET, Argentina), the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (ANPCyT, Argentina), and the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq, Brazil)

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

10336_2017_1509_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (13 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 12 kb)


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natalia C. García
    • 1
  • Luciano N. Naka
    • 2
  • Gustavo S. Cabanne
    • 1
  1. 1.División OrnitologíaMuseo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”–CONICETBuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Laboratório de Ornitologia, Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade Federal de PernambucoRecifeBrazil

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