Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 159, Issue 2, pp 575–579 | Cite as

Genetic and biometric variation across the fragmented range of Jerdon’s Babbler, Chrysomma altirostre, a threatened Oriental grassland specialist

  • Keren R. Sadanandan
  • Urban Olsson
  • Robert Tizard
  • Aleem A. Khan
  • Thet Zaw Naing
  • Naing Lin
  • Nila Pwint
  • Frank E. Rheindt
Short Communication


Jerdon’s Babbler Chrysomma altirostre is a threatened Oriental grassland specialist passerine heavily affected by habitat loss. Its now-relictual range spans from Pakistan to Myanmar covering three poorly-studied subspecies. Our study of subspecific differentiation revealed limited range-wide mitochondrial divergences, suggesting that mountain ranges and other geographic barriers may not have been insurmountable obstacles to inter-subspecific Pleistocene connectivity of this highly specialized grassland bird. For the westernmost subspecies scindicum, we report on phenotypic differentiation consistent with Gloger’s Rule, and ecomorphological adaptations to arid environments requiring increased mobility.


Grassland specialist Ecomorphological adaptations Gloger’s rule Jerdon’s Babbler 


Genetische und biometrische Variation im fragmentierten Verbreitungsgebiet der Jerdontimalie Chrysomma altirostre , einer gefährdeten Grasland-Art der Orientalischen Region

Die Jerdontimalie Chrysomma altirostre ist eine auf Grasland spezialisierte, bedrohte Singvogelart der Orientalischen Region, welche stark unter Lebensraumverlusten leidet. Ihr verbliebenes Verbreitungsgebiet erstreckt sich von Pakistan bis Myanmar und umfasst drei kaum untersuchte Unterarten. Unsere Studie subspezifischer Differenzierung offenbarte begrenzte mitochondriale Abweichungen über das gesamte Verbreitungsgebiet, was nahelegt, dass Gebirgszüge und andere geografische Barrieren während des Pleistozäns unter Umständen keine unüberwindlichen Hindernisse für den Austausch zwischen den Unterarten dieses hochspezialisierten Graslandvogels dargestellt haben. Für die westlichste Unterart scindicum lässt sich sagen, dass deren phänotypische Differenzierung im Einklang mit der Gloger’schen Regel steht und ökomorphologische Anpassungen an eine aride Umwelt aufweist, welche eine erhöhte Mobilität erfordert.



We greatly appreciate the support of the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry of Myanmar, particularly Director General Dr. Nyi Nyi Kyaw and Director Win Naing Taw of the Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division, for their support and encouragement of this collaborative search for poorly studied Myanmar birds. We are also grateful to Than Myint and Saw Htun of the Wildlife Conservation Society Myanmar Program for their advice and enthusiasm for conservation in Myanmar. We acknowledge Mark Adams and the Natural History Museum at Tring (UK) for providing specimens for morphological analysis. This work was partially supported by a grant from The Leona and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and a Singapore Ministry of Education Tier I Grant (R-154-000-658-112). All field and laboratory procedures were conducted in compliance with the National University of Singapore’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and Office of Safety, Health and Environment, respectively, under protocol number B13-4738.

Supplementary material

10336_2018_1530_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Department of Biology and Environmental SciencesUniversity of GothenburgGöteborgSweden
  3. 3.Wildlife Conservation Society Myanmar ProgramYangonMyanmar
  4. 4.Zoology Division, Institute of Pure and Applied BiologyBahauddin Zakariya UniversityMultanPakistan
  5. 5.Moyungyi Wetland Wildlife SanctuaryNature and Wildlife Conservation DivisionBagoMyanmar

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