Morphological and genetic differentiation among Kentish plover Charadrius alexandrinus populations in Macaronesia

Mohammed Almalki, Krisztina Kupán, María Cristina Carmona-Isunza, Pedrin López, Ana Veiga, András Kosztolányi, Tamás Székely, Clemens Küpper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (SciVal)


Macaronesia, a group of archipelagos (Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands and Cape Verde) in the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the global biodiversity hot-spots. However, for species that occur throughout these archipelagos the extent of genetic and morphological differentiation between the archipelagos and mainland Iberia and Africa is often unknown. Here we investigate phenotypic and genetic differentiation of Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus, the most common breeding shorebird of Macaronesia. We show strong genetic and moderate morphological differences among breeding populations. Our results suggest that although these populations are far from being a species-level endemism, they deserve conservation attention given their uniqueness in terms of genetic variation. Recent loss in suitable breeding sites in Canary Islands and Azores put substantial pressure on the extant plover populations. Further studies of the conservation status and threat to these populations are needed along with a comprehensive conservation action plan to halt population decline and facilitate recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • genetic structure
  • Kentish Plover
  • Macaronesia
  • phenotypic divergence


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