Conservation Genetics

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 601–606 | Cite as

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

  • Meritxell Genovart
  • Javier Juste
  • Daniel Oro


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.


conservation mtDNA shearwater 


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We are very grateful to all people involved in the fieldwork, especially to Rafael Triay, Raül Escandell, Rocío F. Graña, Maite Louzao and Jose Manuel Igual. We would also like to thank people who help us in the laboratory: Joaquín Muñoz, Juanele García-Mudarra and Virginia Rodriguez. This study was partially funded by the Govern de les Illes Balears, Ajuntament de Calvia, and grants from Spanish Ministries of Education and Science (ref. BOS2003-01960) and of Environment (ref. 024B/2002).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB)EsporlesSpain
  2. 2.Estación Biológica de Donãna (CSIC)Aptdo.Spain

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