A Great Difference Between Sedentary Subspecies of Laniarius atroflavus Shelley, 1887 Suggests on the Base of Molecular Data that Laniarius atroflavus and Laniarius craterum are Two Separate Species

Billy Nguembock1, 2, *
1 Laboratoire de Zoologie, Département de Biologie et Physiologie Animales, Université de Yaoundé I, BP 812 Yaoundé, Cameroun
2 Département de Sciences Biologiques, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, succursale du Centre-ville, Montréal, QC, H3C 3J7, Canada

© 2014 Billy Nguembock

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Phylogenetician and Biogeographer of the African Passeriformes, Department of Animal Biology and Physiology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Yaounde I, P.O. Box 812 Yaounde, Republic of Cameroon; Tel: 00 (237) 94 14 42 94; Fax: 00 (237) 22 23 53 86; E-mail:


Laniarius atroflavus is a sedentary member of the bush-shrike radiation (family Malaconotidae) and in our first paper, it appeared with strong divergence between its two subspecies. To confirm this divergence and leaning partially on our first obtained results, we investigated a genetic variation of the individuals of Laniarius atroflavus atroflavus (West Africa) and Laniarius atroflavus craterum (West Africa). For the genetic variation, we use two mitochondrial genes (ATPase6 and ND2) to calculate their genetic distances within the Laniarius ingroup and to explore their mutational differentiation. With our ATPase6 and ND2, a genetic distance of 1.66% and 2.14% has been respectively estimated between individuals of Laniarius atroflavus atroflavus (Cameroon Mountain) and Laniarius atroflavus craterum (Manenguba Mountain) whereas it was, for the same markers, of 0% and 0.57% respectively between specimens of Laniarius atroflavus craterum only caught in diverse parts of the Manenguba Mountain. For the mutational differentiation, a total of 34 different molecular characters have been observed with the two markers investigated between these two subspecies. Leaning on some dating results, it appears that Laniarius atroflavus atroflavus diverged from Laniarius atroflavus craterum during the Quaternary period and these dates correspond remarkably with those suggested for several polyphased volcanic activities noted in the Cameroon Volcanic Line. For these separate sedentary birds which are marked by their clinal size variation, measures of their wings as well as the variation of the color of their breast and belly, a possible secondary contact will certainly lead to reinforcement. Thus, we suggest resurrecting names Laniarius atroflavus Shelley, 1887 and Laniarius craterum Bates, 1926 for individuals of the populations hitherto referred as Laniarius atroflavus atroflavus and Laniarius atroflavus craterum respectively.

Keywords: Bush-shrike radiation, Cameroon volcanic line, divergence, genetic distance, mutational differentiation, Quaternary period, reinforcement.