Zoological Studies

Vol. 51 No. 6, 2012

Taxonomy of the Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus Lichtenstein Revisited with Sex-Separated Analyses of Biometrics and Wing Tip Patterns

Frédéric Jiguet1,*, Peter Capainolo2, and Alan Tennyson3

1UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-UPMC, Centre de Recherches sur la Biologie des Populations d’Oiseaux, CP51, 55 rue Buffon, Paris F-75005, France
2Division of Vertebrate Zoology, Department of Ornithology, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024-5192, USA
3Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, PO Box 467, Wellington, New Zealand

A. We investigated geographical phenotypic variations in the Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus Lichtenstein, 1823, by separately conducting analyses of biometrics and wing tip patterns in males and females.  We attempted to investigate the separate taxonomic status of the recently described L. d. judithae and L. d. melisandae, define the geographical range of the Antarctic taxon L. d. austrinus, and look for variations among populations currently attributed to the nominate L. d. dominicanus in South America and New Zealand.  Sexseparated analyses confirmed the discriminant structures and wing patterns of L. d. judithae (from Indian Ocean sub-Antarctic islands) and L. d. melisandae (from Madagascar).  We failed to find differences among birds from Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falklands Is., and suggest that the range of L. d. austrinus could extend from the Antarctic Peninsula to these sub-Antarctic islands.  Populations sampled in southern Patagonia appeared close to L. d. austrinus, although they might also represent populations intermediate between L. d. dominicanus and L. d. austrinus.  The subspecific status of L. d. antipodus from New Zealand populations was suggested by phenotypic characters, while a recently published molecular study of Kelp Gull populations suggests wellseparated clades for birds breeding in New Zealand, Antarctica, and the Kerguelen Is., while the genetic separation of birds from South America (L. d. dominicanus) and Namibia (L. d. vetula) needs further study.  We recommend further molecular studies of this widely distributed species before making further definitive taxonomic recommendations.

Key words: Biometrics, Multivariate analyses, Subspecies, Wing pattern.

*Correspondence: Tel: 33-1-40793080.  Fax: 33-1-40793835.  E-mail:fjiguet@mnhn.fr