As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday 30 November 2018

Black-eared Wheatear: two species, not one

A new study has demonstrated that Eastern and Western Black-eared Wheatears should be treated as separate species.
The research, recently published in Journal of Evolutionary Biology, examined and sequenced the DNA of four black-and-white wheatears: PiedCyprus and both Western and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears. This was used to create a species tree, which illustrates the evolutionary relationships between the studied species. This initial analysis established that, despite their superficial similarities, Western and Eastern Black‐eared Wheatears have evolved as independent taxa, meaning that they should be recognised as full species.
In terms of plumage, black backs and neck-sides separate Pied and Cyprus Wheatears from either Black-eared Wheatear. Interestingly, Western Black-eared Wheatear can be separated from Eastern Black-eared, Pied and Cyprus Wheatears by differences in mitochondrial DNA, yet the latter three species cannot be distinguised individually. Eastern Black-eared Wheatear readily hybridises with Pied Wheatear where their ranges overlap. 

No comments:

Post a Comment