The Large-billed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orinus revisited

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Abstract

The Large-billed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orinus is known only from the type specimen, collected in Himachal Pradesh, India, in 1867. The specimen is poorly prepared, and it has been suggested that it could represent an isolated form of the Clamorous Reed Warbler A. stentoreus or an aberrant Blyth's Reed Warbler A. dumetorum. We tested the affinity of A. orinus by (1) re-examining the morphology of the type specimen and (2) amplifying and sequencing a portion of its mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. Both the morphological and the mitochondrial analyses showed the specimen to be similar to dumetorum, but distinct enough to qualify as a species of its own. Relative to dumetorum, it has a more rounded wing, longer bill, longer and more graduated tail with more pointed tail feathers, and larger claws. The divergence in mitochondrial DNA between orinus and dumetorum was 7.8%, well above the value expected between subspecies. A. orinus is smaller than any of the forms of A. stentoreus or the related Australian Reed Warbler A. australis. It has a somewhat longer first primary, more pointed tail feathers and paler, less robust feet and claws. DNA comparison places it in the clade of small unstreaked Acrocephalus warblers, and apart from the clade of large unstreaked warblers that contains stentoreus and australis.

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  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-267
JournalIbis
Volume144
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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