Plumage variation in Gould’s petrel (Pterodroma leucoptera): an evaluation of the taxonomic validity of P. l. caledonica (Imber & Jenkins 1981)
|Title||Plumage variation in Gould’s petrel (Pterodroma leucoptera): an evaluation of the taxonomic validity of P. l. caledonica (Imber & Jenkins 1981)|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2016|
|Type of Article||Full article|
|Keywords||Gould’s petrel, New Caledonian petrel, Procellariidae, Pterodroma leucoptera caledonica, systematics, taxonomy, white-winged petrel|
Gould’s petrel, Pterodroma leucoptera, comprises 2 subspecies: P. l. leucoptera that breeds in eastern Australia, and P. l. caledonica that breeds in New Caledonia. The latter subspecies was diagnosed primarily on the basis of plumage differences observed between beachcast specimens from New Zealand (presumed to be P. l. caledonica) and a small sample of specimens from Cabbage Tree Island in Australia. This study re-examined the diagnosis of P. l. caledonica by quantifying plumage variation in both subspecies using live individuals and museum specimens originating from breeding colonies. Variation in supposedly diagnostic plumage characters within the larger sample of the nominate subspecies encompassed almost the entire variation observed in P. l. caledonica; though the former tended to be more heavily pigmented. Given the lack of valid diagnostic characters, the retention of P. l. caledonica as a distinct taxon is difficult to justify. Gould’s petrel should therefore be treated as monotypic.