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Differentiation of sympatric populations of the band-rumped storm-petrel in the Galapagos Islands: an examination of genetics, morphology, and vocalizations


Vicki Friesen, Fax: 1-613-533-6617; E-mail:


In each of at least two locations within the Galapagos Islands, breeding band-rumped storm-petrels (Oceanodroma castro) form two distinct populations that use the same colony site at separate times of the year for reproduction. Temporal segregation of these populations raises the possibility that they are reproductively isolated and represent cryptic species. We examined variation in mitochondrial DNA, morphology, and vocalizations of storm-petrel populations nesting 6 months apart on the islet of Plaza Norte in the Galapagos. Seasonal populations displayed low but significant levels of differentiation in the mitochondrial control region, five morphological variables, and one feature of male vocalizations. Breeding populations appear to have been separated for approximately 1700 years. Given the recent divergence date and relatively high effective population sizes (4000–5600 females each), seasonal populations are unlikely to be in genetic equilibrium. As a result, the low divergence estimate probably reflects historical association and not contemporary genetic exchange. These populations are not sufficiently differentiated to be considered cryptic species. However, they are probably in the early stages of divergence. Consequently, we recommend that cool- and hot season populations on Plaza Norte be recognized as separate management units.