Genomic identification of intergeneric hybrids in New World wood-warblers (Aves: Parulidae)

David P.L. Toews, Gunnar R. Kramer, Andrew W. Jones, Courtney L. Brennan, Benjamin E. Cloud, David E. Andersen, Irby J. Lovette, Henry Streby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The documentation of hybrids between distantly related taxa can illustrate an initial step to explain how genes might move between species that do not exhibit complete reproductive isolation. In birds, some of the most phylogenetically distant hybrid combinations occur between genera. Traditionally, morphological and plumage characters have been used to assign the identity of the parental species of a putative hybrid, although recently, nuclear introns also have been used. Here, we demonstrate how high-throughput short-read DNA sequence data can be used to identify the parentage of a putative intergeneric hybrid, in this case between a blue-winged warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera) and a cerulean warbler (Setophaga cerulea). This hybrid had mitochondrial DNA of a cerulean warbler, indicating the maternal parent. For hundreds of single nucleotide polymorphisms within six regions of the nuclear genome that differentiate blue-winged warblers and golden-winged warblers (Vermivora chrysoptera), the hybrid had roughly equal ancestry assignment to blue-winged and cerulean warblers, suggesting a blue-winged warbler as the paternal parent species and demonstrating that this was a first generation (F1) hybrid between these species. Unlike other recently characterized intergeneric warbler hybrids, this individual hybrid learned to song match its maternal parent species, suggesting that it might have been the result of an extra-pair mating and raised in a cerulean warbler nest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-191
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 26 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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