Do different subspecies of Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa overlap in Iberian wintering and staging areas? Validation with genetic markers

Ricardo J. Lopes, José A. Alves, Jennifer A. Gill, Tómas G. Gunnarsson, Jos C. E. W. Hooijmeijer, Pedro M. Lourenço, Jose A. Masero, Theunis Piersma, Peter M. Potts, Bruno Rabaçal, Sandra Reis, Juan M. Sánchez-Guzman, Francisco Santiago-Quesada, Auxiliadora Villegas

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Resolving the migratory connectivity (identifying non-breeding grounds) of migrating bird populations that are morphologically similar is crucial for an understanding of their population dynamics and ultimately their conservation. Such is the case in Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, where the Iceland-breeding subspecies islandica shows overlap during the non-breeding season with the continental-Europe-breeding limosa. On the basis of variation in the control region of mitochondrial DNA, it was already shown that there is a clear geographic structure in their phylogeography and a clear discrimination between the haplotypes of the two subspecies. We can thus assign subspecies of non-breeding individuals on the basis of a molecular assay. Here we validated this approach using samples of 113 birds with known breeding origin, and on the basis of haplotype variation, all birds were properly assigned to each subspecies. We then tested for overlap during non-breeding season using a sample of 278 birds from an Iberian wintering and staging area, the inland rice fields in southwest Iberia (Extremadura, Spain). We showed that even in this inland area, 6.5 % of the birds belonged to islandica subspecies, thus demonstrating the usefulness of genetic markers as an alternative or supplementary method to the most common approach, individual colour-ringing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-40
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Waders
  • Limosa
  • Migratory connnectivity
  • Conservation genetics

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