Split of Rockhopper Penguin

To: richard baxter <>
Subject: Split of Rockhopper Penguin
From: Ian May <>
Date: Wed, 07 Feb 2007 14:33:57 +1100
Here we go again!

How many have twitched this one?

Or perhaps "The findings have important conservational implications" is
code for "We want more money?"

or is Global Warming to blame.



richard baxter wrote:

For those on birding-aus interested.

 Richard Baxter

Tony Pym <> wrote:

 A paper in the journal Molecular Ecology by Pierre Jouventin et al has shown, 
as expected, that the Rockhopper Penguin should be split and recognised as two 
species, E. chrysocome and Eudyptes moseleyi .

 For information, here's an abstract:
   The taxonomic status of populations of rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome) 
is still enigmatic. Northern populations differ from southern ones in breeding 
phenology, song characteristics and head ornaments used as mating signals. We 
conducted a molecular analysis using mitochondrial DNA sequencing to test if there 
is a gene flow barrier between northern (subtropical) populations and southern 
(subantarctic) populations in relation to the Subtropical Convergence, a major 
ecological boundary for marine organisms. Sequences of the control region and the 
ND2 gene were analysed in rockhopper penguins and in the macaroni penguin (Eudyptes 
chrysolophus), a closely related species. Genetic distances and phylogenetic 
analyses showed a clear split into three clades, two rockhopper clades and the 
macaroni penguin. Moreover, ÈST and gene flow estimates also suggested genetic 
structuring within the northern rockhoppers. Our results add further support to the 
notion that the two
rockhopper penguin taxa, often considered as two subspecies, can be recognized 
as two species E. chrysocome and E. moseleyi. The divergence in mating signals 
found between these two taxa seems to have occurred recently and relatively 
rapidly. Thus, the behavioural changes may have been enough to isolate these 
taxa without the need for morphological differentiation. The findings have 
important conservational implications, since E. moseleyi is far less abundant 
than E. chrysocome, but more populations may warrant an uplisting to endangered 
status if full species status should be recognized for more subpopulations.


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