Macaronesian Institute of Field Ornithology

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

Macaronesian Institute of Field Ornithology

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
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Gohli J.,University of Bergen | Leder E.H.,University of Turku | Garcia-Del-Rey E.,Macaronesian Institute of Field Ornithology | Johannessen L.E.,University of Oslo | And 4 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2015

A common challenge in phylogenetic reconstruction is to find enough suitable genomic markers to reliably trace splitting events with short internodes. Here, we present phylogenetic analyses based on genomewide single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of an enigmatic avian radiation, the subspecies complex of Afrocanarian blue tits (Cyanistes teneriffae). The two sister species, the Eurasian blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) and the azure tit (Cyanistes cyanus), constituted the out-group. We generated a large data set of SNPs for analysis of population structure and phylogeny. We also adapted our protocol to utilize degraded DNA from old museum skins from Libya. We found strong population structuring that largely confirmed subspecies monophyly and constructed a coalescent-based phylogeny with full support at all major nodes. The results are consistent with a recent hypothesis that La Palma and Libya are relic populations of an ancient Afrocanarian blue tit, although a small data set for Libya could not resolve its position relative to La Palma. The birds on the eastern islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are similar to those in Morocco. Together they constitute the sister group to the clade containing the other Canary Islands (except La Palma), in which El Hierro is sister to the three central islands. Hence, extant Canary Islands populations seem to originate from multiple independent colonization events. We also found population divergences in a key reproductive trait, viz. sperm length, which may constitute reproductive barriers between certain populations. We recommend a taxonomic revision of this polytypic species, where several subspecies should qualify for species rank. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Garcia-Del-Rey E.,Macaronesian Institute of Field Ornithology | Kleven O.,University of Oslo | Kleven O.,Norwegian Institute for Nature Research | Lifjeld J.T.,University of Oslo
Ibis | Year: 2012

Birds breeding on islands often exhibit lower rates of extrapair paternity than their mainland counterparts, perhaps explained by low genetic variation, 'slower' life histories and reduced sexual selection in island populations. Extrapair paternity was apparent in 39% (12/19) of broods, and encompassed 15% (21/137) of nestlings, in a population of African Blue Tits Cyanistes teneriffae, in Tenerife, Canary Islands. There were no cases of intraspecific brood parasitism. The incidence of extrapair young lies in the upper range of that reported from mainland populations of the closely related Eurasian Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus. We conclude that there is no strong island effect on the genetic mating system in the Cyanistes species group but that extrapair paternity rates in Cyanistes are greater at southern latitudes. © 2012 The Authors Ibis © 2012 British Ornithologists' Union.

Garcia-del-Rey E.,Macaronesian Institute of Field Ornithology | Marthinsen G.,University of Oslo | Calabuig P.,Wildlife Recovery Center Tafira | Estevez L.,Wildlife Recovery Center Tafira | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Ornithology | Year: 2013

The Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea) is endemic to the Canary Islands and restricted to the pine forests on Tenerife (ssp. teydea) and Gran Canaria (ssp. polatzeki). While the teydea population is large and stable, the polatzeki population underwent a dramatic decline in the twentieth century and currently numbers less than 200 individuals. Here, we show that microsatellite allelic diversity is lower in polatzeki than in teydea, consistent with a genetic bottleneck scenario. Our genotyped polatzeki individuals, which were wild-caught but currently used in a captive breeding programme, have the same allelic diversity as free-ranging birds. However, the captive polatzeki males seem to have reduced sperm motility as compared with captive teydea males, which could be an effect of reduced genetic diversity. Because polatzeki and teydea are phylogenetically distinct, they should be recognized as Evolutionarily Significant Units by conservation authorities. We also recommend maintaining the captive polatzeki population as a pre-emptive measure against extinction in the wild. © 2013 Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V.

Garcia-Del-Rey E.,Macaronesian Institute of Field Ornithology | Whittingham M.J.,Northumbria University
Ornis Fennica | Year: 2012

Farmland birds within arable land are of conservation concern in Europe, but little is known about their ecology in the oceanic islands of the Mediterranean Basin (Macaronesia).We report here that, during two consecutive winters and within the entire arable land area of the Canary Islands, increasing area of bare soil is associated with higher occurrences of the resident granivorous species Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra), Atlantic Canary (Serinus canaria) and Linnet (Carduelis cannabina meadowaldoi). However, such a relationship was not found for wintering Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) probably because of its different diet.We recommend that local authorities, theCabildo de Tenerife, purchase and manage these lands to improve conditions for granivorous farmland birds.We suggest that providing suitable foraging habitat will support the recovery of farmland birds on this island.

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