, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 601-606
Date: 17 Nov 2005

Two sibling species sympatrically breeding: a new conservation concern for the critically endangered Balearic shearwater

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Abstract

Two Puffinus shearwater species are endemic to the Mediterranean region: the Yelkouan shearwater P.␣yelkouan breeding in the central and eastern, and the critically endangered Balearic shearwater P.␣mauretanicus in the western, exclusively breeding at the Balearic archipelago. All individuals caught in Minorca, a Balearic breeding site, showed phenotypic traits of Yelkouan shearwaters. Ten birds from that colony were sampled and genetically analysed. A fragment of 857 base pairs of the cytochrome b was sequenced and compared to published sequences of both species obtained from GenBank. A Neighbor-Joining (NJ) reconstruction distinguished two clades with high bootstrap support, showing that both species bred sympatrically in that colony. This result was unexpected since shearwaters do not usually form mixed colonies. New conservation concerns arise also from our study: at first, breeding population of Yelkouan shearwaters is even smaller than previously thought; additionally, other potential threats emerge, such as hybridization and ecological competition.