, Volume 149, Issue 1, pp 1-12
Date: 27 Jul 2007

Phylogeography of the blue tit (Parus teneriffae-group) on the Canary Islands based on mitochondrial DNA sequence data and morphometrics

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An analysis of the sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene (1005 bp) of the Parus teneriffae-group from the Canary Islands and North Africa revealed new insights into the phylogeography of this taxon. The origin of the radiation on the Canarian Archipelago was apparently one of the central islands—Tenerife or Gran Canaria. The populations on El Hierro (P. t. ombriosus) and La Palma (P. t. palmensis) represent distinct monophyletic lineages. Blue tits from Gran Canaria are genetically distinct from those of La Gomera and Tenerife (P. t. teneriffae), which supports the results of other studies and suggests the existence of an—until now—undescribed taxon there. In contrast, the populations on the eastern islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote (P. t. degener) could not be distinguished from North African blue tits (P. t. ultramarinus), and these populations should be subsumed under the subspecies ultramarinus. Taxonomic recommendations based on these results include the distinction of the northern European P. caeruleus from P. teneriffae, including blue tits from North Africa and the Canary Islands, the treatment of degener and ultramarinus as synonymous (P. teneriffae ultramarinus) and a new blue tit taxon on the island of Gran Canaria (P. t. hedwigii nov. ssp.), which is formally described. The genetic results are in parts supported by bioacoustic and morphological data.

Communicated by F. Bairlein.