Lesser Sand Plover - proposed split

Discussion about the evolution, relationships, and naming of New Zealand birds
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Michael Szabo
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Lesser Sand Plover - proposed split

Postby Michael Szabo » Sun Feb 13, 2022 7:27 pm

Genome-wide data reveal paraphyly in the sand plover complex (Charadrius mongolus/leschenaultii)

Chentao Wei ((魏晨韬)), Manuel Schweizer, Pavel S Tomkovich, Vladimir Yu Arkhipov, Michael Romanov, Jonathan Martinez, Xin Lin, Naerhulan Halimubieke ((那尔虎兰•哈力木别克)), Pinjia Que ((阙品甲)), Tong Mu ((慕童)), Qin Huang ((黄秦)), Zhengwang Zhang ((张正旺)), Tamás Székely, and Yang Liu ((刘阳)).
In 'Ornithology', 12 February 2022.

Abstract: Correct assessment of species limits and phylogenetic relationships is a prerequisite for studies in ecology and evolution. Even in well-studied groups such as birds, species delimitation often remains controversial. Traditional avian taxonomy is usually based on morphology, which might be misleading because of the contingent nature of evolutionary diversification. The sand plover complex (genus Charadrius) may be such an example wherein 2 Lesser Sand Plover C. mongolus subspecies groups have been proposed to comprise 2 species. We use genome-wide data of 765K SNPs to show that the widely accepted taxonomic treatment of this sand plover complex appears to be a paraphyletic grouping, with two Lesser Sand Plover subspecies groups found not to be each other’s closest relatives, and with the mongolus subspecies group being the sister taxon of Greater Sand Plover C. leschenaultii. Based on genomic and acoustic analyses, we propose a three-way split of the Sand Plover complex into the Siberian Sand Plover C. mongolus, Tibetan Sand Plover C. atrifrons, and Greater Sand Plover C. leschenaultii. The similar sizes of the Siberian and Tibetan Sand plovers may be the result of niche conservatism coupled with rapid morphological and ecological differentiation in the Greater Sand Plover. Gene flow between the non-sister Tibetan and Greater Sand plovers might have happened in phases of secondary contact as a consequence of climate-driven range expansions. We call for further studies of the Sand Plover complex, and suggest that speciation with intermittent gene flow is more common in birds than currently acknowledged.

Lay Summary: The use of an integrative approach combining molecular and phenotypic data has revolutionized modern avian taxonomy.
Using mitochondrial and genomic-wide variants, we show that the Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus) appears to be paraphyletic taxa, with its two subspecies groups (“mongolus” and “atrifrons”) found not to be each other’s closest relatives, and with the “mongolus” group being the sister taxon of Greater Sand Plover Ch. leschenaultii. The pairwise sequentially Markovian coalescent (PSMC) method indicated contrasting demographic histories between the three taxa in the sand plover complex. We further demonstrated that the two subspecies groups in Lesser Sand Plover differ significantly in vocalizations. These evidences suggest that the migratory Palearctic shorebird Lesser Sand Plover should be split into 2 species: Ch. mongolus Pallas, 1776, and Ch. atrifrons Wagler, 1829.

Link: https://academic.oup.com/auk/advance-ar ... m=fulltext
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Ian Southey
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Re: Lesser Sand Plover - proposed split

Postby Ian Southey » Mon Feb 14, 2022 7:47 am

We've already had this one with exactly the same conclusions viewtopic.php?f=13&t=10556. Maybe the acoustic analysis adds something new but that's behind the pay wall. At this point we just need one of these workers to make a definite statement so an actual taxonomic change can be considered, accepted as reasonable and we can move on. There are also other "sand plovers" that need re-evaluating although none come here (so far).

Ian
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Michael Szabo
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Re: Lesser Sand Plover - proposed split

Postby Michael Szabo » Wed Feb 16, 2022 5:49 pm

"Based on genomic and acoustic analyses, we propose a three-way split of the Sand Plover complex into the Siberian Sand Plover C. mongolus, Tibetan Sand Plover C. atrifrons, and Greater Sand Plover C. leschenaultii."
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Bobolink
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Re: Lesser Sand Plover - proposed split

Postby Bobolink » Wed Feb 16, 2022 8:43 pm

The IOC have now proposed to split Lesser Sand PLovers into two species: Siberian Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus and Tibetan Sand Plover C. atrifrons (February 12), so this paper seems to have spurred them on. I'm not sure what taxonomic authority the new NZ Checkist will follow though. Quite possibly many of our older records may fall into either/or spp. once reviewed.
Ian Southey
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Re: Lesser Sand Plover - proposed split

Postby Ian Southey » Wed Feb 16, 2022 9:42 pm

Our records are of mongolus - what we have been calling Mongolian Dotterels. The last one at Miranda was C.m. stegmani and there is ne record of a bird with a black forehead like the atrifrons group but apparently stegmani can be like that and none of the other diagnostic characters were mentioned in the description.

Ian
Bobolink
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Re: Lesser Sand Plover - proposed split

Postby Bobolink » Wed Feb 16, 2022 10:32 pm

Parrish (Notornis 47:125-126) described an "atrifrons" at Tapora Sand Island in April 1999. It was accepted by the RBC.
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Michael Szabo
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Re: Lesser Sand Plover - proposed split

Postby Michael Szabo » Thu Feb 17, 2022 2:12 pm

I wonder if it was in breeding plumage and if there were any photos?
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Bobolink
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Re: Lesser Sand Plover - proposed split

Postby Bobolink » Thu Feb 17, 2022 8:17 pm

Yes it was. Dont know about photos though. I dont think the two groups are separable in non-breeding plumage, which will send a few records into limbo.Splits in three species in the UK have resulted in only eDNA evidence (poo, feathers) being acceptable as a positive identification feature! (Siberian/Stjenegers Stonechat; Western/Eastern/Moltoni's Subalpine Warbler; Daurian/Turkestan Shrike)
gmckinlay
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Re: Lesser Sand Plover - proposed split

Postby gmckinlay » Fri Feb 18, 2022 1:07 am

Ian, slightly off topic, but I would very much like to know how the Miranda bird was identified as ssp stegmani?

I have been trying to figure out the subspecies/population at the key site in Palau for several years, but I don't know how to separate from ssp mongolus. If they are stegmani the site should exceed EEAF staging site thresholds for that population - eastern breeders so Palau's location possibly favourable. The upcoming northward migration when many are in breeding plumage so a good time for another shot at that.
Bobolink
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Re: Lesser Sand Plover - proposed split

Postby Bobolink » Fri Feb 18, 2022 6:33 am

Seems I was mistaken about them not being separable in non-breeding plumage, an experienced observer in Birdforum states "The idea that they are difficult to separate in non-breeding plumage has been in circulation for a long time but is incorrect. They differ in structure, plumage and behaviour." "Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago" (2nd ed 2021 James A. Eaton, Bas van Balen, Nick W. Brickle, Frank E. Rheindt) split these back in 2016 based on plumage differences and it goes into detail on how to distinguish them.

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