Do the European Great Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) reach South Africa during wintering?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Former studies have shown that the Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) has two genetically distinguishable haplogroups (a ‘‘western’’ and an ‘‘eastern’’ clade). The species occurs in South Africa from January to late March, yet, in the whole database of EURING, there are no recoveries to the south of the Congo. There are at least three hypotheses concerning which birds are seen wintering in South Africa: (1) the European breeders reach South Africa, but there are no ringing recoveries; (2) a mixed population of birds originating from Turkey, Iran and Kazakhstan (Near and Middle East) winters in South Africa; and (3) birds from Europe and the Near and Middle Eastern populations both reach South Africa. We have sequenced a 492-bp part of the mtDNA control region II in 146 samples from five European breeding and one South African wintering population of Great Reed Warblers. The results show that over 60% of the wintering birds in South Africa carry European haplotypes, belonging to both ‘‘eastern’’ and ‘‘western’’ clades. Since the exact haplotypic constitution of the Near and Middle Eastern populations are not known to us, we cannot exclude that a mixed wintering population is formed from birds originating from these regions, but it seems more likely that the European breeders reach South Africa.


  • Norbert Mátrai
  • Gábor Bakonyi
  • József Gyurácz
  • Gyula Hoffmann
  • Kobie Raijmakers
  • Julio Neto
  • Róbert Mátics
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences


  • Great Reed Warbler, mtDNA, Control region II, South Africa
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-583
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch