In order to provide an insight into the genetic differentiation between the four currently recognised subspecies of the common crane Grus grus, we sequenced the mitochondrial control region of a total of eight birds. Genetic distances ranged from 0.3–1.1%, hardly supporting the distinction of the morphologically defined subspecies. A Neighbor-net and a BioNeighbor-joining tree, however, did recover shallow phylogenetic structure largely in accordance with taxonomy. Therefore, the genetic diversity must be fairly young and morphological differences seem to have evolved rapidly. In addition to more comprehensive sampling, analyses of microsatellite loci or single nucleotide polymorphisms may be necessary to assess the degree of genetic cohesion within and between groups of populations and putative subspecies of the common crane.
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Vol. 59 • No. 1