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The phylogenetic placement of the enigmatic Indian Cormorant, Phalacrocorax fuscicollis (Phalacrocoracidae)

Kennedy, Martyn, Seneviratne, Sampath S., Rawlence, Nicolas J., Ratnayake, Shakila, Spencer, Hamish G.
Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 2019 v.130 pp. 227-232
Phalacrocorax, Pliocene epoch, allopatry, birds, genetic analysis, genetic variation, mitochondria, mitochondrial DNA, mitochondrial genes, nucleotide sequences, phylogeny, piscivores, Australia, India, Indonesia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Vietnam
The Indian Cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis) is a common avian piscivore that occurs throughout the Indian subcontinent and east to southern Vietnam. Its evolutionary relationships, however, have remained obscure, largely because of a lack of material available for either osteological or genetic analysis. Here we show using DNA-sequence data from both nuclear and mitochondrial genes that this species is sister to the allopatric Little Black Cormorant (P. sulcirostris), which occurs from Java in the west through southern Indonesia and New Guinea to Australia and New Zealand in the south. We estimate this split to have happened 2.5–3.2 million years ago, during the late Pliocene. We also report on genetic variation within the mitochondrial control region, which suggests that this part of the genome may be useful in investigating if there is genetic structure across the geographical range of the Indian Cormorant.