We used whole-genome resequencing to estimate genetic distinctiveness in the Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens) - including S. v. waynei - a putative subspecies that occupies a narrow disjunct breeding range along the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Despite detecting low-global differentiation (FST = 0.027) across the entire species, the principal components analysis of genome-wide differences shows the main axis of variation separates S. v. waynei from all other S. v. virens samples. We also estimated a low-migration rate for S. v. waynei, but found them to be most similar to another disjunct population from the Piedmont of North Carolina, and detected evidence of a historical north-to-south geographic dispersal among the entire species. New World wood warblers (family: Parulidae) can exhibit strong phenotypic differences among species, particularly, in song and plumage; however, within-species variation in these warblers - often designated as subspecies - is much more subtle. The existence of several isolated Black-throated Green Warbler populations across its eastern North American breeding range offers an excellent opportunity to further understand the origin, maintenance, and conservation status of subspecific populations. Our results, combined with previously documented ecological and morphological distinctiveness, support that S. v. waynei be considered a distinct and recognized subspecies worthy of targeted conservation efforts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology