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New Evidence on Morphology and Distribution of the Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis) in Maghreb.

Byline: Ahmed Taibi, Maria Angeles Hernandez, Mohammed El Amine Bentaallah and Salaheddine Doumandji

Abstract

In North Africa, are living two subspecies for Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis: L. m. algeriensis and L. m. elegans. This paper attempts to find out whether there are biometric differences between the two subspecies and between the genders. Results show that there are no significant differences between sexes or between subspecies, at least despite clear signal in plumage coloration.

Key words: Lanius meridionalis.

The shrike is a small to relatively large bird with a more or less sharply hooked bill and strong legs, feet and claws adapted for catching prey (Hutchins et al., 2002), They inhabit open habitats, especially steppe and savannah (Karakas, 2011).

Material and methods

A total of 29 L. m. algeriensis birds (13 males, 11 females and 4 of unidentified sex) and 38 L. m. elegans (17 males, 16 females and 5 of unidentified sex). These specimens were collected from 29 localities in Maghreb (10 in Morocco, 7 in A polytypic species of the southern grey shrike, Lanius meridionalis is distributed in a vast belt stretching over northern Africa, the middle East and parts of Asia (Lefranc and Worfolk, 1997). It is split from the great grey shrike Lanius excubitor (Isenmann and Bouchet, 1993; Isenmann and N., 1994; Lefranc and Worfolk, 1997). Ten subspecies of L. meridionalis are distributed in Palearctic and Africa (Harris and Franklin, 2000; Lefranc and Worfolk, 1997). Studies based on molecular techniques (Gonzalez et al., 2008; Klassert et al., 2008; Olsson et al., 2010) shows that the subspecies L. m. meridionalis appears distinct from other subspecies studied.

Two of these subspecies (L. m. algeriensis and L. m. elegans) have been proposed genetically closer to Lanius excubitor than to Lanius meridionalis (Klassert et al., 2008). They differ in plumage coloration and biometric variables (Cramp and Perrins, 1993; Lefranc and Worfolk, 1997; Panov, 2011). Based on measurements of specimens preserved in museums as skins, Cramp and Perrins (1993) showed that there were significant differences in the beak-head's length between males and females of both the subspecies. Intermediate forms between the subspecies called dodsoni have been described in Maghreb (Lefranc and Worfolk, 1997).

L. m. algeriensis is distributed in the North- west of Africa along Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, and L. m. elegans has been reported from north and center Sahara (Lefranc and Worfolk, 1997).

In this article, we introduce new biometric information for subspecies algeriensis and elegans, and we try to check whether there are differences between them. This information is added to the relative plumage coloration and molecular techniques to find out whether all sources of analyses agree in their conclusions on the similarity or the difference between the two subspecies of grey shrike from the north and the south.

Material and methods

A total of 29 L. m. algeriensis birds (13 males, 11 females and 4 of unidentified sex) and 38 L. m. elegans (17 males, 16 females and 5 of unidentified sex). These specimens were collected from 29 localities in Maghreb (10 in Morocco, 7 in Algeria and 12 in Tunisia), between 1874 and 1954.

According to Svensson (1992) five morphological measurements were taken into account: length of wing (maximum chord), total body, tarsus, bill to skull, and tail. All were measured with a 1 mm precision caliper. All values are presented as mean standard deviation. Sex was recorded in the collection labels after identification of fresh individuals in the field. However, after skinning all measurements of the great grey shrike decreased by 2-5% (Kuczynski et al., 2003).

The variables in this analysis were all normally distributed (KolmogorovSmirnoff test). Therefore, we used ANOVA to analyze differences between subspecies and the total biometric differences between sexes of each subspecies.

Results and discussion

Plumage and geographic distribution L. m. algeriensis (Fig. 1). Grey darker back, throat paler contrasting with grey chest, wing bar white is narrow, supercilium line broad.

Table I. Comparison of variables measured for the two subspecies L. m. algeriensis and L. m. elegans according to sex.

Measurements###L. m. algeriensis###L. m. elegans

(mm)###Males###Females###F###P###Males###Females###F###p

###(n=13)###(n=11)###(n=17)###(n=16)

Wing length###99.99 4.17###103.82 2.99###0.001###0.94 ns###104.38 3.76###104.29 3.26###0.001###0.94 ns

###(94-109)###(100-110)###(96-112)###(99-112)

Body length###215.68 10.44###221.36 11.20###1.17###0.29 ns###222.19 8.94###225.24 11.61###0.71###0.41 ns

###(210-250)###(200-235)###(210-240)###(210-240)

Tail length###103.99 8.46###105.18 6.63###2.73###0.11 ns###106.25 7.57###104.29 6.44###0.63###0.43 ns

###(95-128)###(91-112)###(97-116)###(97-114)

Tarsus length###29.68 3.96###30.36 1.29###0.48###0.49 ns###29.63 2.96###30.24 2.44###0.42###0.52 ns

###(20-36)###(28-31)###(27-35)###(26-34)

Bill length###22.73 2.15###23,18 2.71###0.45###0.51 ns###22.88 1.78###22.41 1.94###0.51###0.48 ns

###(21-29)###(19-28)###(20-25)###(20-27)

L. m. elegans (Fig. 1). The back is pale grey, chest paler and white throat, outer rectrices white, wing bar white is wide.

The localities of the National Museum of Natural History specimens of Paris as well as personal observations of alive birds in Maghreb (Fig. 2) match with that given by Lefranc and Worfolk (1997), but for L. m. elegans expands its range in South-Western Morocco (Agadir, Tamanar and in Mogador), South of Algeria (Tamanrasset) and also in two localities in the South-East of Tunisia (Menzel and Medenine).

Biometry

The analysis of biometric variables in this study showed a significant overlap between the sexes for each subspecies (Table I). It is probably for this reason; no significant differences were reported between the sexes within each sub-species.

These results differ from those of (Cramp and Perrins, 1993), who found significant differences between males and females in the length of beak- head for two subspecies.

We have gathered all males and females of each subspecies in order to perform a comparative study between them. No significant difference between biometric measurements of L. m. algeriensis and L. m. elegans was noted (all p values greater than 0.05). In all cases, degree of freedom is 1.22 for L. m. algeriensis and 1.33 for L. m. elegans.

Genetic analysis of (Olsson et al., 2010) with the use of mitochondrial DNA of elegans and algeriensis subspecies which are arranged differently in taxa that appear as follows: the first is nested among elegans and koenigi, another is nested with the leucopygos and the third is sister to elegans-koenigi clade. Thus, there is a special position in the relation elegans-algeriensis. Our data show differences in plumage and in geographical distribution of these two sub-species, but they do not correspond to differences in biometrics. This suggests doubts about whether the plumage coloration and distribution are sufficient criteria to distinguish the two as separate subspecies. To clarify this point we suggest a larger study that includes biometrics information, morphological and molecular on shrikes of Maghreb region.

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Romain Julliard of Laboratory of Comparative the Anatomy Natural Museum of Natural History of Paris for his assistance for data collection and Feryel Sellam for the correction of the English of this article. This study was supported by University of Tlemcen (Algeria) and the Museum of Comparative Anatomy of Paris (France).

References

Cramp, S. and Perrins, C., 1993. The birds of the Western Palearctic, vols. 8-9: Oxford University Press, Oxford. Gonzalez, J., Wink, M., Garcia-Del-Rey, E. and Castro, G.D., 2008. J. Ornithol., 149: 495-506.

Harris, T. and Franklin, K., 2000. Shrikes and bush-shrikes: Including wood-shrikes, helmet-shrikes, flycatcher- shrikes, Philentomas, Batises and Wattle-Eyes: AandC Black. Isenmann, P. and Bouchet, M.A., 1993. Alauda, 61: 223-227. Isenmann, P. and Lefranc, N., 1994. Alauda, 62: 138-139. Hutchins, M., Jackson, J.A., Bock, W.J. and Olendorf, D., 2002. Grzimek's animal life encyclopedia, Birds III. vol. 10: Farmington Hills: Thomson Gale. Karakas, R., 2011. Pakistan J. Zool., 43: 593-596.

Klassert, T.E., Hernandez, M.A., Campos, F., Infante, O., Almeida, T., Suarez, N.M., Pestano, J. and Hernandez, M., 2008. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 47: 1227-1231.

Kuczynski, L., Tryjanowski, P., Antczak, M., Skoracki, M. and Hromada, M., 2003. Bonn. Zool. Beitr., 51: 127-130.

Lefranc, N. and Worfolk, T., 1997. A guide to the shrikes of the world. Pica Press, Sussex. Olsson, U., AlstrAlm, P., Svensson, L., Aliabadian, M. and Sundberg, P., 2010. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 55: 347- 357.

Panov, E., 2011. The true shrikes (Laniidae) of the world: Ecology, behavior and evolution. Pensoft, Sofia and Moscow. Svensson, L., 1992. Identification guide to European passerines. 4th ed., published privately by the author: Stockholm.
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Article Details
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Author:Taibi, Ahmed; Hernandez, Maria Angeles; Bentaallah, Mohammed El Amine; Doumandji, Salaheddine
Publication:Pakistan Journal of Zoology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:60NOR
Date:Apr 30, 2015
Words:1467
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