Whooper; Canadian geese split; paraphyly.

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Nov 16 23:44:15 CST 2004

Dear All,
      Quivira National Wildlife Refuge remains closed to hunting until at least Friday due the presence of one whooping crane.  It is thought to be the third whooping crane "shot at" on November 6th, but not injured (at least not seriously so).  I have not found out yet if this is an adult that just happened to be with the two whoopers which were shot, or if it was this year's offspring of these two whoopers.  Whooper offspring that get separated from their parents sometimes end up migrating with sandhills to western Texas rather than Aransas (which was probably the case with the single whooper which I saw flying north with sandhills this past February---a stroke of serendipitous luck).  Should be interesting to see what happens with this one whooper still sticking around at Quivira.

      On a related note concerning migrating birds, the Canada Goose has been officially split this year into two separate species----(1) the larger-bodied Canada Goose (Branta canadensis); and (2) the smaller-bodied Cackling Goose (Brant hutchinsii).  Even though there is sometimes some morphological overlap (which can make some identifications difficult), they apparently have slightly different mitochondrial DNA sequences.  Should be interesting to see if increased scrutiny results in evidence supporting this split or not.  Intergrades between the two species would only have the mitochondrial sequences of the mother, so it is a little more complex than if they had based it on nuclear genes.  Sampling problems along the remote Arctic coast could therefore still end up making this split problematic.  We shall see.
         ------ Ken Kinman
P.S.  The same mitochondrial DNA sequences indicate that the Hawaiian forms (including the extant nene goose) evolved from the larger-bodied species (B. canadensis)-----thus rendering B. canadensis paraphyletic.  Does this mean strict cladists will insist that the nene goose be reduced to subspecies status??  Or will they just PRETEND that they are sister species??  [They can run, but they can't hide----paraphyly is nipping at their heels all over the place if they would just admit it].  :-)

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