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Raptor diversity in Europe (1 Viewer)

Peter Kovalik

Well-known member
Negro, J.J., Rodríguez-Rodríguez, E.J., Rodríguez, A., and Bildstein, K. (2022) Generation of raptor diversity in Europe: linking speciation with climate changes and the ability to migrate. PeerJ 10:e14505. 8 December 2022.
Generation of raptor diversity in Europe: linking speciation with climate changes and the ability to migrate

Europe holds a rich community of diurnal birds of prey, and the highest proportion of transcontinental migratory raptorial species of any landmass. This study will test the hypotheses that the high diversification of the raptor assemblage in Europe is a recent event, that closely related species sharing the same trophic niches can only coexist in sympatry during the breeding period, when food availability is higher, and finally that migration is a function of size, with the smaller species in every trophic group moving further. A consensus molecular phylogeny for the 38 regular breeding species of raptors in Europe was obtained from BirdTree (www.birdtree.org). For the same species, a trophic niche cluster dendrogram was constructed. Size and migratory strategy were introduced in the resulting phylogeny, where trophic groups were also identified. Multispecific trophic groups tended to be composed of reciprocal sister species of different sizes, while monospecific groups (n = 3) were composed of highly specialized species. Many speciation events took place recently, during the glacial cycles of the Quaternary, and size divergence among competing species may be due to character displacement. Nowadays, the smaller species in every trophic group migrate to sub-Saharan Africa. This investigation illustrates how the rich assemblage of diurnal birds of prey in Europe, more diverse and more migratory than, for instance, the North American assemblage at equivalent latitudes, has emerged recently due to the multiplication of look-alike species with similar trophic ecologies, possibly in climate refugia during cold periods.

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