Rapid loss of flight in the Aldabra white-throated rail

Autoři: Janske van de Crommenacker aff001;  Nancy Bunbury aff001;  Hazel A. Jackson aff002;  Lisa J. Nupen aff004;  Ross Wanless aff004;  Frauke Fleischer-Dogley aff001;  Jim J. Groombridge aff002;  Ben H. Warren aff006
Působiště autorů: Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF), Mont Fleuri, Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles aff001;  Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom aff002;  Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Penryn, United Kingdom aff003;  DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa aff004;  Institute of Marine Affairs and Resources Management, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung, Taiwan aff005;  Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, Paris, France aff006
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(12)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226064


Flight loss has evolved independently in numerous island bird lineages worldwide, and particularly in rails (Rallidae). The Aldabra white-throated rail (Dryolimnas [cuvieri] aldabranus) is the last surviving flightless bird in the western Indian Ocean, and the only living flightless subspecies within Dryolimnas cuvieri, which is otherwise volant across its extant range. Such a difference in flight capacity among populations of a single species is unusual, and could be due to rapid evolution of flight loss, or greater evolutionary divergence than can readily be detected by traditional taxonomic approaches. Here we used genetic and morphological analyses to investigate evolutionary trajectories of living and extinct Dryolimnas cuvieri subspecies. Our data places D. [c.] aldabranus among the most rapid documented avian flight loss cases (within an estimated maximum of 80,000–130,000 years). However, the unusual intraspecific variability in flight capacity within D. cuvieri is best explained by levels of genetic divergence, which exceed those documented between other volant taxa versus flightless close relatives, all of which have full species status. Our results also support consideration of Dryolimnas [cuvieri] aldabranus as sufficiently evolutionary distinct from D. c. cuvieri to warrant management as an evolutionary significant unit. Trait variability among closely related lineages should be considered when assessing conservation status, particularly for traits known to influence vulnerability to extinction (e.g. flightlessness).

Klíčová slova:

Animal flight – Bird flight – Bird genetics – Evolutionary genetics – Islands – Madagascar – Museum collections – Phylogenetic analysis


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