Robbery in progress: Historical museum collections bring to light a mitochondrial capture within a bird species widespread across southern Australia, the Copperback Quail-thrush Cinclosoma clarum

We surveyed mitochondrial, autosomal, and Z chromosome diversity within and between the Copperback Quail-thrush Cinclosoma clarum and Chestnut Quail-thrush C. castanotum, which together span the arid and semi-arid zones of southern Australia, and primarily from specimens held in museum collections. We affirm the recent taxonomic separation of the two species and then focus on diversity within the more widespread of the two species, C. clarum. To guide further study of the system and what it offers to understanding the genomics of the differentiation and speciation processes, we develop and present a hypothesis to explain mitonuclear discordance that emerged in ourdata. Following a period of historical allopatry, secondary contact has resulted in an eastern mitochondrial genome replacing the western mitochondrial genome in western populations. This is predicted under a population-level invasion in the opposite direction, that of the western population invading the range of the eastern one. Mitochondrial captures can be driven by neutral, demographic processes, or adaptive mechanisms, and we favor the hypothesized capture being driven by neutral means. We cannot fully reject the adaptive process but suggest how these alternatives may be further tested. We acknowledge an alternative hypothesis, which finds some support in phenotypic data published elsewhere, namely that outcomes of secondary contact have been more complex than our current genomic data suggest. Discriminating and reconciling these two alternative hypotheses, which may not be mutually exclusive, could be tested with closer sampling at levels of population, individual, and nucleotide than has so far been possible. This would be further aided by knowledge of the genetic basis to phenotypic variation described elsewhere.