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31 July 2019 Archival DNA reveals cryptic biodiversity within the Spotted Shag (Phalacrocorax punctatus) from New Zealand
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Genetic data are increasingly being used to prioritize species conservation in a fiscally constrained age of seemingly boundless conservation crises. Such data can also reveal previously cryptic biodiversity requiring further revision of conservation management guidelines. Using a combination of mitochondrial (control region) and nuclear (beta fibrinogen intron 7) DNA, and morphology, we reveal that the endemic New Zealand Spotted Shag (Phalacrocorax punctatus) complex exhibits phylogenetic structure that is decoupled from previously recorded qualitative morphological variation. Crucially, the most genetically distinct populations within P. punctatus are from northern New Zealand; recent surveys show that these populations, which house important genetic diversity within Spotted Shags, are in danger of being extirpated. In contrast, we find the previously phenotypically differentiated nominate (P. punctatus punctatus) and Blue (P. punctatus oliveri) Shag subspecies show no genetic and morphological separation, and are of least conservation concern.

Copyright © American Ornithological Society 2019. All rights reserved. For permissions, e-mail:
Nicolas J. Rawlence, Matt J. Rayner, Tim G. Lovegrove, Debbie Stoddart, Melanie Vermeulen, Luke J. Easton, Alan J. D. Tennyson, R. Paul Scofield, Martyn Kennedy, Hamish Spencer, and Jonathan M. Waters "Archival DNA reveals cryptic biodiversity within the Spotted Shag (Phalacrocorax punctatus) from New Zealand," The Condor 121(3), 1-16, (31 July 2019).
Received: 19 October 2018; Accepted: 2 May 2019; Published: 31 July 2019

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