Thursday, March 1, 2018

[Ornithology • 2018] Ara tricolor • The Phylogenetic Position of the Extinct Cuban Macaw based on Complete Mitochondrial Genome Sequences

Ara tricolor  (Bechstein, 1811)

 Johansson, Ericson, Blom & Irestedt, 2018. 
  DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12591  

The Cuban Macaw Ara tricolor was a species of macaw native to Cuba and Isla de la Juventud in the Caribbean that became extinct in the 1860s. Morphologically it was similar to, but distinctively smaller than the large red macaws – Scarlet Macaw A. macao and Red-and-green Macaw A. chloropterus. A close affinity with the Scarlet Macaw has been suggested based on plumage similarities. In this study we use complete mitochondrial genome sequences to examine the phylogenetic position of the Cuban Macaw. Our results do not indicate a sister-species relationship with the Scarlet Macaw, but place the Cuban Macaw sister to the two red species and the two large green macaws, the Military Macaw A. militaris and the Great Green Macaw A. ambiguus. Divergence estimates suggests that the Cuban Macaw separated from this group approximately 4 million years ago. 

Watercolour by Jacques Barraband (circa 1800) of a Cuban Red Macaw (Ara tricolor).

Painting of a specimen in Liverpool Museum by John Gerrard Keulemans, 1907

Ulf S. Johansson, Per G. P. Ericson, Mozes P. K. Blom and Martin Irestedt. 018. The Phylogenetic Position of the Extinct Cuban Macaw Ara tricolor based on Complete Mitochondrial Genome Sequences. Ibis.   DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12591

Guy M. Kirwan and James W. Wiley. 2013. The extinct macaws of the West Indies, with special reference to Cuban Macaw Ara tricolor.  Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 133(2); 125-156.