written by Jude Janith Niroshan ( University of Colombo, Sri Lanka)

photocredit: Avian Sciences & Conservation Research Group

The “Hanuman Plover” story

The Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) (Linnaeus 1758) is a common shorebird found in Eurasia and North Africa, known for its diverse breeding habitats and migratory behavior. In this study, we focused on the resident population of Kentish Plover found across Southern India and Sri Lanka, Charadrius alexandrinus seebohmi and examined its systematic status based on phenotypic and genetic differences. Our analysis revealed that the C. a. seebohmi differs from its sister taxa (C. a. alexandrinus & C. a. dealbatus) in body size, moulting pattern, and plumage coloration. Also, these three taxa have moderate genetic differentiation based on mitochondrial, sex-linked, and autosomal microsatellite markers. We also examined major museum collections in Asia, Europe, and North America for this study.

Based on our findings, we propose elevating the C. a. seebohmi to species level, and resurrecting the most suitable synonym, Charadrius alexandrinus seebohmi Hartert and Jackson, 1915, and elevate to species level with the proposed English name ‘Hanuman Plover’. This taxonomic change is supported by differences in genotype, phenotype, allochronic migratory pattern, and breeding range.

By re-evaluating the systematic status of the South Asian Kentish Plover population, we hope to contribute to a better understanding of the evolutionary history and diversity of this Kentish Plover complex.

The journal article based on this study is now available online. Find the article here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ibi.13220

This research was conducted by: Prof. Sampath Seneviratne and Jude Janitha Niroshan (Avian Sciences & Conservation Research Group, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka), Prof. Yang Liu (Sun Yat-sen University, China), Prof. Tamas Szekely (University of Bath, UK) along with a team of scientists from Sri Lanka, China and UK.