, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 39-52
Date: 01 Sep 2011

The complete phylogeny of Pseudobulweria, the most endangered seabird genus: systematics, species status and conservation implications

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Pseudobulweria is one of the least known and most endangered of all seabird genera. It comprises six taxa, of which two are extinct, three are critically endangered and one is near threatened. Phylogenetic relationships between these taxa and position of the genus in the Order Procellariiformes have never been studied, and the taxonomic status of several taxa remains unsettled. Conservation management of Pseudobulweria taxa will be enhanced if these uncertainties are resolved. We used a multilocus gene tree approach with two mitochondrial DNA markers (cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 and cytochrome b gene) and one nuclear intron (β Fibrinogen intron 7) to investigate phylogenetic relationships within the genus using sequences from all taxa. We combined gene trees to estimate a phylogeny of the genus using a multispecies coalescent methodology. We confirmed the link between Pseudobulweria and a clade comprising Puffinus and Bulweria genera. The Fiji petrel’s status, as belonging to the genus, is confirmed, as is the specific status of newly rediscovered Beck’s petrel. Maintenance of the two sub-species of Tahiti petrel as currently described is not supported. Discovering the breeding grounds of all taxa is the key for their conservation, which is vital to both the marine and fragile insular tropical ecosystems where Pseudobulweria are apical predators.