Conservation taxonomy of the Greater Antillean Oriole (Icterus dominicensis): diagnosable plumage variation among allopatric populations supports species status

Date
2009
Authors
Price, Melissa R.
Hayes, William K.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
Caribbean Ornithology
Abstract
Allopatric populations, such as those present on islands, pose special challenges to identifying taxonomic boundaries which can be practically addressed using diagnostic criteria. To assess the taxonomic and, hence, conservation status of the four island populations of the Greater Antillean Oriole (Icterus dominicensis), we examined 156 male specimens of I. dominicensis for six discrete and three continuous plumage characters. The four island populations proved to be 100% diagnosable. Icterus d. northropi differed from all other taxa by having the greatest extent of yellow on the venter (non-overlapping with other taxa). Icterus d. portoricensis was distinguished from all other taxa by the presence of a black upper rump (yellow in other taxa) and the least extent of yellow on the rump (non-overlapping with other taxa). Icterus d. melanopsis and I. d. dominicensis were fully discriminated from I. d. northropi and I. d. portoricensis by the aforementioned characters and from each other by upper-tail covert color (black and ≥ 50% yellow, respectively). Our findings support recent studies suggesting that the four island groups represent distinct allospecies consistent with interpretations of both the phylogenetic and evolutionary species concepts. With elevation to full species, conservation priorities need to be revisited, particularly for the critically endangered Bahamas taxon (I. d. northropi).
Description
Keywords
conservation taxonomy, Greater Antillean Oriole, Icterus dominicensis, plumage variation, species limits, West Indies
Citation
Price, M. R. and W. K. Hayes (2009) Conservation taxonomy of the Greater Antillean Oriole (Icterus dominicensis): diagnosable plumage variation among allopatric populations supports species status. Caribbean Ornithology 22:19–25.
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