Phylogeography and conservation of the endemic Hispaniolan Palm-Tanagers (Aves: Phaenicophilus)
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- Sly, N.D., Townsend, A.K., Rimmer, C.C. et al. Conserv Genet (2010) 11: 2121. doi:10.1007/s10592-010-0098-4
The Gray-crowned Palm-Tanager (Phaenicophilus poliocephalus), sometimes considered conspecific with its more widespread congener P. palmarum, is restricted to Haiti’s Tiburon Peninsula, a biodiversity hotspot threatened by extensive habitat loss. We used a multilocus phylogeographic approach to identify evolutionarily distinct populations of Phaenicophilus. Mitochondrial haplotypes formed two reciprocally monophyletic groups separated by 5% uncorrected divergence. Genealogical patterns of differentiation at nuclear intron alleles were congruent with those of mtDNA, and the two species also differed in body size and shape. An ancient sea channel between the Tiburon Peninsula and mainland Haiti was likely a dispersal barrier that led to allopatric divergence, a hypothesis supported by our estimates of divergence times. Our results support the recognition of two Palm-Tanager species, confirming P. poliocephalus as Haiti’s only endemic bird species and underscoring the need to protect the Tiburon Peninsula’s single primary forest reserve.