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Molecular verification of the subspecies status of the Mauritanian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia balsaci
Piersma, T.; van der Velde, M.; El-Hacen, E.M.; Lok, T.; Overdijk, O.; El-Hacen, E.M. (2012). Molecular verification of the subspecies status of the Mauritanian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia balsaci. Ardea 100(2): 131-136.
In: Ardea. Nederlandse Ornithologische Unie: Arnhem; Leiden. ISSN 0373-2266 , more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

    Threskiornithidae [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    dispersal; genetic population structure; Mauritania; microsatellites;philopatry; phylogeography; subspeciation; Threshkiornitidae; Wadden Sea

Authors  Top 
  • Piersma, T., more
  • van der Velde, M.
  • El-Hacen, E.M.
  • Lok, T., more
  • Overdijk, O.
  • El-Hacen, E.M.

    Piersma T., van der Velde M., El-Hacen E.M., Lok T. & Overdijk O. 2012. Molecular verification of the subspecies status of the Mauritanian Spoonbill Plata lea leucorodia balsaci. Ardea 100: 131-136. In 1974 R. de Naurois and F. Roux proposed that the distinct morphology of Eurasian Spoonbills Plata lea leucorodia breeding on offshore islands in the Banc d'Arguin, Mauritania, in comparison with the sympatrically wintering northwest European breeding Spoonbills Plata lea leucorodia leucorodia, justifies recognition as a separate subspecies Plata lea leucorodia balsaci. This proposal is examined here on the basis of variation in nuclear DNA, microsatellites identified earlier for P minor and P ajaja. We show that there is significant variation between Spoonbills breeding in Mauritania (n = 25) and the sympatrically wintering conspecifics breeding in the Dutch Wadden Sea (n = 105). Of the total genetic variation among the 130 individuals, 6.3% is attributable to variation between the two breeding areas (93.7% of the variation is within breeding areas). Pairwise F-ST values showed low genetic differentiation (F-ST's <0.012) among breeding colonies within The Netherlands. The level of genetic differentiation indicates that the level of gene flow between The Netherlands and Mauritania is much lower (similar to 4-5 individuals/generation) than among the Dutch colonies on separate Wadden Sea islands. Field observations on individually colour-marked birds from The Netherlands indeed suggest extensive dispersal within northwest Europe, with some introgression of leucorodia genes into the balsaci population. The level of microsatellite distinctiveness between sympatric populations of the two subspecies is similar to that recorded for subspecies of other migrant birds, and as such justifies the subspecies status of the Mauritanian Spoonbill.

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