Geographic patterns of genetic differentiation and plumage colour variation are different in the pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The pied flycatcher is one of the most phenotypically variable bird species in Europe. The geographic variation in phenotypes has often been attributed to spatial variation in selection regimes that is associated with the presence or absence of the congeneric collared flycatcher. Spatial variation in phenotypes could however also be generated by spatially restricted gene flow and genetic drift. We examined the genetic population structure of pied flycatchers across the breeding range and applied the phenotypic Q(ST) (P(ST))-F(ST) approach to detect indirect signals of divergent selection on dorsal plumage colouration in pied flycatcher males. Allelic frequencies at neutral markers were found to significantly differ among populations breeding in central and southern Europe whereas northerly breeding pied flycatchers were found to be one apparently panmictic group of individuals. Pairwise differences between phenotypic (P(ST)) and neutral genetic distances (F(ST)) were positively correlated after removing the most differentiated Spanish and Swiss populations from the analysis, suggesting that genetic drift may have contributed to the observed phenotypic differentiation in some parts of the pied flycatcher breeding range. Differentiation in dorsal plumage colouration however greatly exceeded that observed at neutral genetic markers, which indicates that the observed pattern of phenotypic differentiation is unlikely to be solely maintained by restricted gene flow and genetic drift.


  • Paula K. Lehtonen
  • Toni Laaksonen
  • Aleksandr V. Artemyev
  • Eugen Belskii
  • Christian Both
  • Stanislav Bures
  • Andrey V. Bushuev
  • Indrikis Krams
  • Juan Moreno
  • Marko Mägi
  • Andreas Nord
  • Jaime Potti
  • Pierre-Alain Ravussin
  • Päivi M. Sirkiä
  • Glenn-Peter Saetre
  • Craig R. Primmer
External organisations
  • External Organization - Unknown
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences


  • genetic differentiation, phylogeography, passerine birds, microsatellites, pigmentation, PST–FST, colonization
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4463-4476
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes