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Ecogeographical variation in the Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus)

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The Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus (Gmelin, 1789); Aves, Procellariiformes), ranging from New Zealand to the Graham Peninsula and Patagonia and also from coastal Antarctica to Gough Island, displays significant geographic variation throughout its range. Six breeding provinces were identified, which show significant interpopulational variation. The formerly proposed subspecies Macronectes giganteus giganteus and Macronectes giganteus solanderi were confirmed. Macronectes giganteus solanderi has smaller homologuous parts than M. g. giganteus. Two of the provinces belong to the subspecies M. g. solanderi. Females are smaller and have shorter bills than males. In M. g. giganteus, outer appendages are longer in the sub-Antarctic than in the Antarctic, which is consistent with Allen’s rule. Moreover, an east-to-west cline shows a gradual decrease in body size. Within M. g. solanderi, the Chubut River Estuary (Argentina) and the Falkland Islands form the southern province, and Gough Island the northern province. The birds have shallower bills in Argentina than in the Falklands or Gough, but tarsi are longest in Gough. Macronectes giganteus giganteus is morphologically polymorphic but taxonomically stable, whereas M. g. solanderi, which is biometrically less variable, could undergo taxonomical differentiation. This paper gives arguments for further morphometric and genetic studies on the taxon.

Le Pétrel géant méridional (Macronectes giganteus (Gmelin, 1789); Aves, Procellariiformes), dont la répartition s’étend de la Nouvelle-Zélande à la péninsule de Graham et la Patagonie, ainsi que de la côte de l’Antarctique à l’île Gough, présente une variation géographique significative à travers toute son aire de répartition, composée de six provinces - des régions qui présentent une variation interpopulationnelle significative. Les deux sous-espèces proposées antérieurement, Macronectes giganteus giganteus et Macronectes giganteus solanderi, sont confirmées. Macronectes giganteus solanderi présente des parties homologues plus petites que M. g. giganteus. Deux de ces provinces sont occupées par la sous-espèce M. g. solanderi. Par rapport aux mâles, les femelles sont plus petites et ont le bec moins long. Chez M. g. giganteus, les populations subantarctiques présentent des appendices externes plus longs que les populations antarctiques - la règle d’Allen est donc vérifiée chez cette sous-espèce. En outre, un cline d’est en ouest montre une décroissance graduelle de la taille corporelle. Chez M. g. solanderi, l’estuaire du fleuve Chubut (Argentine) et les Maldives forment la province méridionale, et Gough la province septentrionale de l’aire. Les oiseaux du Chubut ont le bec moins profond que ceux des Maldives et de Gough; mais c’est à Gough que les tarses sont les plus longs. Macronectes giganteus giganteus présente un polymorphisme morphologique mais reste taxonomiquement stable, tandis que M. g. solanderi, biométriquement moins variable, subirait une différenciation taxinomique. Cet article donne des arguments en faveur d’études morphométriques et génétiques ultérieures.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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