Saturday, April 11, 2020

[Ornithology • 2020] Unforeseen Diversity of Quails (Galliformes: Phasianidae: Coturnix) in Oceanic Islands provided by the Fossil Record of Macaronesia

[A] Coturnix lignorum, [B] C. alabrevis & [C] C. centensis  
Rando, Alcover, Pieper, Olson, Hernández & López-Jurado. 2020. 

 Artwork by Pau Oliver. 

The original bird fauna of most oceanic islands has been affected by recent extinction processes associated with human arrival and its subsequent impacts. In the volcanic Macaronesian archipelagos (Azores, Madeira, Selvagens, Canary Islands and Cape Verde), in the North Atlantic, the Late Quaternary fossil record indicates that there was formerly a higher avian diversity, including a high number of now extinct endemic species. This assemblage of extinct birds includes endemic insular quails (Galliformes: Phasianidae). In this study, we describe three newly discovered extinct species of quails, two of which inhabited the archipelago of Madeira (Coturnix lignorum sp. nov. from Madeira Island and Coturnix alabrevis sp. nov. from Porto Santo Island) and one from Cape Verde (Coturnix centensis sp. nov.). The fossil record also indicates the presence of additional species of extinct endemic quails on other Macaronesian islands. These birds plus the extinct Canary Island quail (Coturnix gomerae) indicate a high former endemic diversity of this genus in Macaronesia, a feature unique among oceanic archipelagos. Anatomical traits show that the new taxa were flightless ground dwellers, making them vulnerable to human interference, with their extinction being linked to human arrival and subsequent habitat alterations and the introduction of invasive species.

Keywords: anatomy, extinction, fossil birds, island biogeography, morphometrics, Quaternary


Galliformes Temminck, 1820 
Phasianidae Horsfield, 1821 

Coturnix Garsault, 1764

Figure 3. Premaxilla, coracoid, scapula, sternum and synsacrum of Coturnix lignorum from Madeira (A1 –A5), Coturnix alabrevis from Porto Santo (B1 , B2), Coturnix coturnix (C1 –C5), Coturnix gomerae from La Gomera (D2 ), Coturnix sp. A from Bugio (E2 ) and Coturnix sp. C from Graciosa (F2 ).
 A1 –C1 , premaxilla dorsal view (top) and left lateral view (bottom). A2 –F2 , coracoid, dorsal view. A3 , C3 , scapula, left lateral view. A4 , C4 , sternum ventral view (top) and left lateral view (bottom) (the high of apex carinae is shown). A5 , C5 , synsacrum ventral view. Scapulas and coracoids are from the left side, except for E2 . A1 , MMF 47329; B1 , MMF 47413; C1 , IMEDEA 106905; F1 , MCMa 2354.018; A2 , MMF 47325; B2 , MMF 47411; C2 , IMEDEA 106904; D2 , DZUL 1830; E2 , MMF 47416; F2 , MCMa FC-1368; A3 , MMF 47330; C3 , IMEDEA 106907; A4 , MMF 47328; C4 , IMEDEA 106905; A5 , MMF 47327; C5 , IMEDEA 106906.

Figure 1. Map of the Macaronesian Islands. Silhouettes indicate specimen records discussed in this paper: (1) Coturnix lignorum; (2) Coturnix alabrevis; (3) Coturnix centensis; (4) C. gomerae; and (5–7) Coturnix sp.

Figure 7. Artistic reconstruction of: A, Coturnix lignorum; B, Coturnix alabrevis; C, Coturnix centensis; and D, the silhouette of the common quail Coturnix coturnix for comparison, based on bone measurements, when available (wing and leg bones of the three species, sternum of C. lignorum, and premaxillae of C. lignorum and Coturnix alabrevis). Colours are speculative. All drawings are depicted at the same scale. Artwork by Pau Oliver.

Coturnix lignorum Rando, Alcover, Pieper, Olson, Hernández & López-Jurado sp. nov.

Etymology: The specific name lignorum is derived from from the Latin genitive plural of lignumwood, a direct translation of the Portuguese madeira.

Coturnix alabrevis Rando, Alcover, Pieper, Olson, Hernández & López-Jurado sp. nov.

Etymology: From Latin alawing, and brevisshort, in reference to the small size of the forelimb (wing) bones.

Coturnix centensis Rando, Alcover, Pieper, Olson, Hernández & López-Jurado sp. nov.

Etymology: In the Portuguese-based creole language spoken in Cape Verde, the island of São Vicente is called ‘Son Cent'. We based our epithet on this, adding the Latin locative suffix -ensis.

Juan C. Rando, Josep A. Alcover, Harald Pieper, Storrs L. Olson, C. Nayra Hernández and L. Felipe López-Jurado. 2020. Unforeseen Diversity of Quails (Galliformes: Phasianidae: Coturnix) in Oceanic Islands provided by the Fossil Record of Macaronesia. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 188(4); 1296–1317. DOI: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlz107