Enigmatic phylogeny of skuas (Aves: Stercorariidae)

Cohen, B.L. et al. (1997) Enigmatic phylogeny of skuas (Aves: Stercorariidae). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 264(1379), pp. 181-190. (doi:10.1098/rspb.1997.0026)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.1997.0026


Multiple sources of evidence show that the skuas (Aves: Stercorariidae) are a monophyletic group, closely related to gulls (Laridae). On morphological and behavioural evidence the Stercorariidae are divided into two widely divergent genera, Catharacta and Stercorarius, consistent with observed levels of nuclear and mitochondrial gene divergence. Catharacta skuas are large-bodied and with one exception breed in the Southern Hemisphere. Stercorarius skuas (otherwise known as jaegers) are smaller bodied and breed exclusively in the Northern Hemisphere. Evidence from both mitochondrial and nuclear genomes and from ectoparasitic lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) shows that the Pomarine skua, S. pomarinus, which has been recognized as being somewhat intermediate in certain morphological and behavioural characteristics, is much more closely related to species in the genus Catharacta, especially to the Northern Hemispherebreeding Great skua, C. skua, than it is to the other two Stercorarius skuas, the Arctic skua, S. parasiticus and the Longtailed skua, S. longicaudus. Three possible explanations that might account for this discordant aspect of skua phylogeny are explored. These involve (i) the segregation of ancestral polymorphism, (ii)convergent evolution of morphology and behaviour or (iii) inter-generic hybridization. The available evidence from both nuclear and mitochondrial genomes does not exclude any of these hypotheses. Thus, resolution of this enigma of skua phylogeny awaits further work.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cohen, Dr Bernard and Wilson, Dr Richard
Authors: Cohen, B.L., Baker, A.J., Blechschmidt, K., Dittmann, D.L., Furness, H.D., Gerwin, J.A., Helbig, A.J., De Korte, J., Marshall, H.D., Palma, R.L., Peter, H.-U., Ramli, R., Siebold, I., Willcox, M.S., Wilson, R.H., and Zink, R.M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology
Journal Name:Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN (Online):1471-2954
Published Online:22 February 1997

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
51311Molecular Phylogeny of Skuas (Aves: Stercoraridae).Bernard CohenNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)GR3/8222MCSB - BIOCHEMISTRY & CELL BIOLOGY