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Genetic evidence for speciation of the Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus and mediterranean shearwater Puffinus yelkouan

Genetic evidence for speciation of the Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus and mediterranean shearwater Puffinus yelkouan

Vogelwelt 114(6): 226-232

The Atlantic and Mediterranean populations of the Manx shearwater Puffinus p. puffinus and P. p. yelkouan are usually treated as subspecies, although they differ in morphology, vocalizations and geographical characters. To solve this taxonomic question we have employed methods of molecular biology such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and DNA sequencing. The cytochrome-b gene of the Atlantic and East Mediterranean Manx shearwater was amplified by (PCR) and partially sequenced (300 base pairs). Sequences differ substantially (6.6% nucleotide exchanges) between both taxa. For comparison Cory's shearwater Calonectris diomedea and P. puffinus differ by 7.7%, whereas the subspecies of C. diomedea are separated by 1.5% base substitutions. It is likely therefore, that the Manx and the Mediterranean shearwater have reached species level already. In consequence, both taxa should be considered as allospecies belonging to a common superspecies. Cytochrome-b sequences of P. puffinus and P. yelkouan are compared phylogenetically ("maximum parsimony"; PAUP 3.1.1) with those of other Procellariidae Calonectris diomedea, Fulmarus glacialis and other seabirds Larus argentatus, Rissa tridactyla, Phalacrocorax aristotelis. Puffinus appears paraphyletic to Calonectris whereas Fulmarus, although clearly a petrel, is only distantly related to shearwaters.

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