Extinct Canary Island bird was not a unique species after all, DNA tests prove

phys.org | 6/1/2017 | Staff
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DNA tests have proven an extinct bird species unique to the Canary Islands—whose loss was considered a sizeable blow for genetic diversity—is actually almost identical to types commonly found in the UK and throughout Europe.

The last known specimen of the now extinct Canary Islands Oystercatcher was shot in its native habitat of the Spanish islands in 1913 by British ornithologist David Bannerman and only eight specimens exist in museum collections.

Islands - Oystercatchers - Wading - Birds - Beaches

Canary Islands Oystercatchers were crow-sized wading birds which foraged on beaches hunting for marine invertebrates.

Whilst the familiar beach-dwelling Eurasian Oystercatcher is black and white, the Canary Islands Oystercatcher was almost entirely black earning it the local name of 'sea raven' on the island of Fuerteventura. This black plumage lead to suggestions it was more closely linked to the African Oystercatcher, which is also all black.

DNA - Sequencing - Bird - Oystercatcher—so - Close

However, DNA sequencing of the extinct bird has revealed it is far more closely linked to the Eurasian Oystercatcher—so close that it could be considered to be the same species.

The similarity of the DNA means that the loss of the unique Canary Island Oystercatcher will have resulted in the loss of less genetic biodiversity than previously thought.

Team - Scientists - University - Aberdeen - DNA

An international team of scientists led by the University of Aberdeen isolated and sequenced DNA from two museum specimens held in Manchester Museum and the World Museum, Liverpool and then compared it to fresh samples from African Black and Eurasian Oystercatchers. The results are published in the scientific journal Ibis.

There was little evidence to suggest the Canary Island Oystercatcher warrants status as a species in its own right, and should be better treated as a subspecies of the Eurasian Oystercatcher.

Professor - Martin - Collinson - University - Aberdeen

Professor Martin Collinson from the University of Aberdeen...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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