Molecular verification of the subspecies status of the Mauritanian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia balsaci

Theunis Piersma*, Marco van der Velde, El-Hacen Mohamed El-Hacen, Tamar Lok, Otto Overdijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In 1974 R. de Naurois and F. Roux proposed that the distinct morphology of Eurasian Spoonbills Plata lea leucorodia breeding on offshore islands in the Banc d'Arguin, Mauritania, in comparison with the sympatrically wintering northwest European breeding Spoonbills Plata lea leucorodia leucorodia, justifies recognition as a separate subspecies Plata lea leucorodia balsaci. This proposal is examined here on the basis of variation in nuclear DNA, microsatellites identified earlier for P minor and P ajaja. We show that there is significant variation between Spoonbills breeding in Mauritania (n = 25) and the sympatrically wintering conspecifics breeding in the Dutch Wadden Sea (n = 105). Of the total genetic variation among the 130 individuals, 6.3% is attributable to variation between the two breeding areas (93.7% of the variation is within breeding areas). Pairwise F-ST values showed low genetic differentiation (F-ST's

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-136
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • dispersal
  • genetic population structure
  • Mauritania
  • microsatellites
  • philopatry
  • phylogeography
  • subspeciation
  • Threshkiornitidae
  • Wadden Sea

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