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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2009 Nov;53(2):556-64. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2009.07.018. Epub 2009 Jul 24.

Phylogeography and genetic structure of the Canarian common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) inferred with mtDNA and microsatellite loci.

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Departamento de Genética, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, E-35080 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain.


The widespread common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) inhabits five of the seven Canary Islands. Sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene (1002bp) revealed new insights into the systematics and phylogeography of this taxon. Additionally, a set of microsatellite loci were analyzed to examine the structure of these populations. Our results suggest that a new species of the genus Fringilla is present in the Canary Islands, which comprises at least three subspecies, but with a different distribution to that which has been morphologically accepted. The specimens from Gran Canaria are genetically distinct from those of La Gomera and Tenerife (F. c. canariensis), which suggests the existence of an undescribed taxon. Furthermore, nuclear microsatellite data suggest an ongoing incipient speciation process in this population. This study provides both important conservationist implications and a basis for re-evaluating the taxonomic status of the Canarian Fringilla coelebs populations.

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