Is the nominate subspecies of the common crossbill Loxia c. curvirostra polytypic? II. Differentiation among vocal types in functional traits

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2008
Authors:EDELAAR, PIM, Van Eerde, K, Terpstra, K
Journal:Journal of Avian Biology
Date Published:2008
ISBN Number:1600-048X
Keywords:Europe, Fringillidae, Loxia, Loxia curvirostra
Abstract:Vocally differentiated common crossbill Loxia curvirostra populations (‘vocal types’) in North America show a high degree of morphological and ecological specialization coupled with significant genetic differentiation and appreciable levels of assortative mating in sympatry. Similar vocally differentiated common crossbill vocal types have recently also been uncovered in Europe. These vocal types frequently overlap in space and time, and preliminary data indicate strong assortatively mating in sympatry. These observations suggest that the European nominate subspecies also consists of several independent evolutionary lineages, but so far morphological and ecological support for this view has been lacking. Bill morphology of crossbills is tightly linked to resource use, and we earlier showed that average morphology (of birds of unknown vocal type) indeed differed among years, consistent with the possibility that vocal types are morphologically differentiated if the proportion of each type caught varies among years. Here we test specifically for morphological differences between birds assigned to vocal type, at two sites and during two independent influxes. Differentiation between the two vocal types studied is highly significant, with the same pattern uncovered at each site and for each influx. Of eight traits investigated, in both univariate and multivariate analyses, the trait that differs most between the two types is the ecologically important bill depth. The difference in average bill depth between these two European vocal types (0.26 mm) is equivalent to the difference between some ecologically specialised North American vocal types. These results provide further evidence that the nominate subspecies of the common crossbill consists of several ecologically distinct populations, if not cryptic species.
Short Title:Journal of Avian Biology
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith