Morphology, geographical variation and the subspecies of marsh tit Poecile palustris in Britain and central Europe

Broughton, Richard K.; Burgess, Malcolm D.; Dadam, Daria; Hebda, Grzegorz; Bellamy, Paul E.; Hinsley, Shelley A.. 2016 Morphology, geographical variation and the subspecies of marsh tit Poecile palustris in Britain and central Europe. Bird Study, 63 (1). 58-65. 10.1080/00063657.2015.1132187

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Capsule: All British Marsh Tits belong to subspecies Poecile palustris dresseri, being smaller than nominate P. p. palustris of central Europe. Aims: Determining the subspecies of Marsh Tit in Britain to test whether ssp. P. p. palustris occurs in northern England and Scotland, by assessing regional variation in size compared with central European birds. Methods: 1147 wing length and 250 tail length measurements from 953 Marsh Tits were compared between eight British locations to test for regional variation. Biometrics were compared between birds from Britain and six locations within the continental European range of ssp. palustris. Results: There was no regional variation in wing or tail lengths among British Marsh Tits, indicating that all resident birds belong to ssp. dresseri. There was no evidence supporting the existence of ssp. palustris in northern England. British birds were significantly smaller than those from continental Europe, with proportionately shorter tails, consistent across all age and sex classes. Conclusion: All British Marsh Tits should be considered as ssp. dresseri, with ssp. palustris being limited to continental Europe. With no evidence of regional variation in size within Britain, reliable sexing methods based on biometrics could be applied in demographic studies throughout the country.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1080/00063657.2015.1132187
CEH Sections: Pywell
ISSN: 0006-3657
NORA Subject Terms: Zoology
Date made live: 03 Feb 2016 15:58 +0 (UTC)

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