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Do the European Great Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) reach South Africa during wintering?

  • Norbert Mátrai
  • Gábor Bakonyi
  • József Gyurácz
  • Gyula Hoffmann
  • Kobie Raijmakers
  • Julio Neto
  • Róbert Mátics
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 579-583
Publication/Series: Journal of Ornithology
Volume: 153
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

Former studies have shown that the Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) has two genetically distinguishable haplogroups (a ‘‘western’’ and an ‘‘eastern’’ clade). The species occurs in South Africa from January to late March, yet, in the whole database of EURING, there are no recoveries to the south of the Congo. There are at least three hypotheses concerning which birds are seen wintering in South Africa: (1) the European breeders reach South Africa, but there are no ringing recoveries; (2) a mixed population of birds originating from Turkey, Iran and Kazakhstan (Near and Middle East) winters in South Africa; and (3) birds from Europe and the Near and Middle Eastern populations both reach South Africa. We have sequenced a 492-bp part of the mtDNA control region II in 146 samples from five European breeding and one South African wintering population of Great Reed Warblers. The results show that over 60% of the wintering birds in South Africa carry European haplotypes, belonging to both ‘‘eastern’’ and ‘‘western’’ clades. Since the exact haplotypic constitution of the Near and Middle Eastern populations are not known to us, we cannot exclude that a mixed wintering population is formed from birds originating from these regions, but it seems more likely that the European breeders reach South Africa.


  • Biological Sciences
  • Great Reed Warbler
  • mtDNA
  • Control region II
  • South Africa


  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 2193-7192
Júlio Neto
E-mail: julio [dot] neto [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Visiting research fellow



Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Research group

Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab