Joshua Penalba L&S Sciences
Phylogeography of the Orange Ground Thrush (Zoothera gurneyi) of the Eastern Arc Mountains, Africa
The Eastern Arc Mountains of Africa have been identified as an area of high bird diversity and endemism. The forests on these mountains underwent a contraction creating sky islands. Diversity of the forest habitat suggests that the Eastern Arc Mountains served as a refuge during the Pliocene climate cycling. Current molecular technology has allowed for discovery of cryptic taxa between the sky islands. Insights in the genetic structure of populations lead to further understanding of the driving forces of evolution for endemic taxa. There is a high likelihood that similar structure may be detected in the Orange Ground Thrush (Zoothera gurneyi). The present day range of this species encompasses discontinuous, contracted forests in the Eastern Arc Mountains. With the use of various molecular markers, the extent of gene flow can be measured between these montane forests. Information from this study may serve in future conservation measures for this declining species.