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Louette M.,Royal Museum for Central Africa | Herremans M.,Royal Museum for Central Africa | Nagy Z.T.,Royal Belgian Institute Of Natural Sciences | Nagy Z.T.,Joint Experimental Molecular Unit JEMU RMCA RBINS | And 9 more authors.
Bonner Zoologische Monographien | Year: 2011

The nominate subspecies of Frances's Sparrowhawk Accipiter francesiae lives on Madagascar, while three of the Comoro Islands have distinct subspecies. Morphological variation among these four populations is peculiar: Whereas on Madagascar a sexual difference in color pattern occurs, plumage differences are small in the Comoros populations, with masculine females (on Grand Comoro, Anjouan) and feminine males (on Mayotte), and there is also a juvenal plumage (sensu Palmer 1972) on Mayotte which does not exist in any other population. The Comoran endemics also show important differences between islands in density and habitat preference. DNA sequence analysis of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase 1 gene shows that they are characterized by closely related but distinct mitochondrial haplotypes. Furthermore, the phylogeographic pattern indicates that these islands were colonized in the same historical timeframe. We cannot date this event as yet, although considering the age of the archipelago (ca. 3.9 Myr) it must have been relatively recent. The discrepancy between molecular and ecological results indicates rapid, divergent morphological and ecological evolution of the insular populations.

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