, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 1363-1374

Species limits and population differentiation in New Zealand snipes (Scolopacidae: Coenocorypha)

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Abstract

At least four species of New Zealand snipes (Coenocorypha) became extinct following the introduction of predatory mammals, and another two species suffered massive range reductions. To investigate species limits and population differentiation in six of the seven remaining offshore populations, we assayed variation in nine microsatellite loci and 1,980 base pairs of four mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genes. Genetic diversity in all populations except the largest one on Adams Island in the Auckland Islands was very low in both genomes. Alleles were fixed at many microsatellite loci and for single mtDNA haplotypes, particularly in the populations in the Chathams, Snares, Antipodes and Campbell Islands. Strong population structure has developed, and Chathams and Snares Islands populations are effectively genetically isolated from one another and from the more southern island populations. Based on reciprocal monophyly of lineages and their morphological distinctiveness we recommend that three phylogenetic species should be recognized, C. pusilla in the Chatham Islands, C. huegeli in the Snares Islands and C. aucklandica in the southern islands. The populations of C. aucklandica in the Auckland Islands, Antipodes Island and Campbell Island may warrant recognition as subspecies, and all should be managed as separate conservation units.