Min Chai


Phylogenetic relationships of the goshawk Accipiter [gentilis] superspecies

MSc Student
Advisor: Elisabeth Haring

Natural History Museum &
Unit for Integrative Zoology, Department of Evolutionary Biology
University of Vienna


The focus of the present study is the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), a member of the family Accipitridae. Accipiter gentilis has been placed within the Accipiter [gentilis] superspecies complex together with Accipiter meyerianus, Accipiter melanoleucus and Accipiter henstii. Currently, 10 subspecies are distinguished within Accipiter gentilis. In a previous analysis of mitochondrial sequences by Kunz et al. (2019), was a deep split within the Accipiter gentilis clade into a Nearctic and a Palearctic clade. Both clades were not closely related in these analyses. The Palearctic clade was more closely related to A. meyerianus and these two in turn were more closely related to the Old-World taxa, A. henstii and A. melanoleucus. To test whether the mitochondrial phylogeny is also reflected in nuclear markers, we analyzed the intron 7 of the β-fibrinogen (β-fibint 7) genewhich is a commonly used nuclear marker in birds, for 42 samplesFurthermore, a reduced-representation genome sequencing by ddRADseq was performed to investigate the relationships among the genus Accipiter on a genome-wide scaleOur study indicates that β-fibint 7 is not a suitable marker as there were only minimal differences among taxa. Conversely, bioinformatic analyses of the ddRADseq data from 58 samples support the pattern previously detected with mitochondrial markers showing that there is a split within the Holarctic A. gentilis into two clades. Taken together, our findings would indicate to split the Holarctic A. gentilis into two species. Importantly, however, an outgroup must be included into the phylogenetic analyses before solid decisions can be made.