In the painted bunting (Passerina ciris), a North American songbird, populations on the Atlantic coast and interior southern United States are known to be allopatric during the breeding season, but efforts to map connectivity with wintering ranges have been largely inconclusive. Using genomic and morphological data from museum specimens and banded birds, we found evidence of three genetically differentiated painted bunting populations with distinct wintering ranges and molt-migration phenologies. In addition to confirming that the Atlantic coast population remains allopatric throughout the annual cycle, we identified an unexpected migratory divide within the interior breeding range. Populations breeding in Louisiana winter on the Yucatán Peninsula and are parapatric with other interior populations that winter in mainland Mexico and Central America. Across the interior breeding range, genetic ancestry is also associated with variation in wing length, suggesting that selection may be promoting morphological divergence in populations with different migration strategies.
Keywords: genomics; migration; ornithology; phylogeography; population genetics; zoology.