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While reports of species going extinct are sadly becoming common, an international team of scientists has identified a new species of bird living on the Southern coast of China, that diverged from their Northern relatives around half a million years ago.
New research by the Milner Centre for Evolution academics in collaboration with Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou (China) shows that Southern and Northern breeding populations of plovers in China are in fact two distinct species: Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) in the North and white-faced plover (Charadrius dealbatus) in the South.
Genomics - Analysis - Team - Kentish - Plover
Using state-of-the-art genomics analysis, the team revealed that the Kentish plover and white-faced plover diverged approximately half a million years ago due to cycling sea level changes between the Eastern and Southern China Sea causing intermittent isolation of the two regional populations.
The results show that despite looking very similar, the two plover species have high levels of genetic divergence on their sex chromosomes, (Z chromosome) than on other chromosomes, indicating that sexual selection might play a role to in the evolution of the two species.
Dr - Yang - Liu - Scholar - Sun
Dr. Yang Liu, a visiting scholar from Sun Yat-sen University at the Milner Centre for Evolution, led the work. He said: "The initial divergence of the two plovers was probably triggered by the geographical isolation.
"However, other factors, such as ecological specializations, behavioral divergence, and sexual selection could also contribute to the speciation of the two species.
Studies - Factors - Plover - Populations
"In future studies, we wish to understand how these factors operate on plover populations."
Dr. Araxi Urrutia, Senior Lecturer...
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