The biogeography of Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua)
Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua (J.R. Forster 1781)) are defined morphologically as a single species with a northern and southern subspecies. Differences in nuptial displays and particularly
mating calls, however, suggest isolation among island archipelagos of different ocean basins. We thus asked whether genetic divergence of populations could be confirmed using molecular markers. A phylogenetic tree was constructed from a sample of 110 Gentoo Penguins and 58 haplotypes from
the control region of the mitochondrial DNA. Reanalyses of historical data on morphology were conducted to construct additional phylogenetic trees for comparison. In agreement with differences in mating calls, the phylogenetic tree that was based on mitochondrial DNA showed a deep division
between populations in the Indian and Atlantic oceans. The current systematic division into two subspecies based on morphology was not supported. The division between populations in the Indian and Atlantic oceans was great enough to justify taxonomic revision, with at least three distinct
clades: two in the respective sub-Antarctic and Antarctic zones of the Atlantic Ocean, and a deeply divergent and unnamed third clade in the sub-Antarctic Indian Ocean. In contrast to more pelagic species like Rockhopper Penguins (Eudyptes
chrysocome (J.R. Forster, 1781)), the restricted coastal foraging ranges of Gentoo Penguins and the distances among isolated oceanic archipelagos could explain the distribution of genetically differentiated populations.
Document Type: Research Article
Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive – Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique UMR 5175, 1919 Route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier CEDEX 5, France.
Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 2 Gagarin Street, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria.
Vogelwarte Radolfzell am Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie, Schlossallee 2, D-78315 Radolfzell, Germany.
Publication date: March 1, 2012
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