The Vinaceous Rosefinch (Carpodacus vinaceus) is endemic in East Asia with two recognized subspecies -C. v. vinaceus, distributed along the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas, and C. v. formosanus, restricted to Taiwan's Central Mountain Range. As reflected in a controversial taxonomic history, this vastly disjunctive distribution pattern suggests that the subspecies, having been isolated from each other for a long time, might have diverged, challenging the current taxonomic treatment and calling for possible species delimitation. Sequences of two mitochondrial fragments (mtDNA) and two Z-linked nuclear loci (zDNA) were used to reconstruct the intraspecific phylogeny of C. vinaceous. The mtDNA tree shows that the two subspecies of the vinaceous rosefinch form two exclusively monophyletic clades. All but one zDNA sequences from the nominate subspecies and C. v. formosanus also formed exclusively monophyletic clades (the exceptional zDNA sequence from C. v. vinaceous formed a weakly supported clade with two outgroup species). Moreover, by conducting quantitative comparisons of morphometric traits and male plumage coloration, we found that the two subspecies exhibit distinguishable morphological differences. All the evidence therefore suggests that C. v. formosanus is a cryptic species and that its taxonomic status should be restored to full species. Molecular dating suggests that the two sibling rosefinches split 1.7±0.2million years ago, providing a point estimate for the historical connectivity of biota between eastern Tibet-Himalayas and montane Taiwan.
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