Format

Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2018 Feb 5;13(2):e0192359. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192359. eCollection 2018.

The critically endangered forest owlet Heteroglaux blewitti is nested within the currently recognized Athene clade: A century-old debate addressed.

Author information

1
Division of Conservation Biology, Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India.
2
Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Madhav Nagar, Manipal, Karnataka, India.
3
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India.
4
Wildlife Research and Conservation Society, Pune, Maharashtra, India.
5
Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.
6
National Centre for Biological Science, TIFR, Bangalore, Karnataka, India.

Abstract

Range-restricted species generally have specific niche requirements and may often have unique evolutionary histories. Unfortunately, many of these species severely lack basic research, resulting in poor conservation strategies. The phylogenetic relationship of the Critically Endangered Forest Owlet Heteroglaux blewitti has been the subject of a century-old debate. The current classifications based on non-phylogenetic comparisons of morphology place the small owls of Asia into three genera, namely, Athene, Glaucidium, and Heteroglaux. Based on morphological and anatomical data, H. blewitti has been alternatively hypothesized to belong within Athene, Glaucidium, or its own monotypic genus Heteroglaux. To test these competing hypotheses, we sequenced six loci (~4300 bp data) and performed phylogenetic analyses of owlets. Mitochondrial and nuclear trees were not congruent in their placement of H. blewitti. However, both mitochondrial and nuclear combined datasets showed strong statistical support with high maximum likelihood bootstrap (>/ = 90) and Bayesian posterior probability values (>/ = 0.98) for H. blewitti being nested in the currently recognized Athene group, but not sister to Indian A. brama. The divergence of H. blewitti from its sister taxa was between 4.3 and 5.7 Ma coinciding with a period of drastic climatic changes in the Indian subcontinent. This study presented the first genetic analysis of H. blewitti, a Critically Endangered species, and addressed the long debate on the relationships of the Athene-Heteroglaux-Glaucidium complex. We recommend further studies with more data and complete taxon sampling to understand the biogeography of Indian Athene species.

PMID:
29401484
PMCID:
PMC5798823
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0192359
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center