Puffinus

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Puffinus
Puffinus griseus.png
Sooty shearwater, Puffinus griseus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Procellariiformes
Family: Procellariidae
Genus: Puffinus
Brisson, 1760
Species

See text

Synonyms

Puffinus is a genus of seabirds in the order Procellariiformes. It comprises about 20 small to medium-sized shearwaters. Two other shearwater genera are named: Calonectris, which comprises three large shearwaters, and Procellaria with another four large species. The latter are usually called petrels, although they are thought to be more closely related to the shearwaters than to the other petrels. Despite the resemblance in the name, the puffins are auks, and completely unrelated to the shearwaters in the genus Puffinus; the genus name Puffinus is actually a New Latin loanword based on the English "puffin". The original Latin term for shearwaters was usually the catchall name for sea-birds, mergus.[1] The taxonomy of this group is the cause of much debate, and the number of recognised species depends on the source.

The species in this group are long-winged birds, dark brown or black above, and white to dark brown below. They are pelagic outside the breeding season. They are most common in temperate and cold waters.

These tubenose birds fly with stiff wings, and use a shearing flight technique to move across wave fronts with the minimum of active flight. Some small species, such as the Manx shearwater, are cruciform in flight, with their long wings held directly out from their bodies.

Many are long-distance migrants, perhaps most spectacularly the sooty and short-tailed shearwaters, which perform migrations of 14,000 km or more each year.

Puffinus shearwaters come to islands and coastal cliffs only to breed. They are nocturnal at the colonial breeding sites, preferring moonless nights to minimise predation. They nest in burrows and often give eerie contact calls on their night-time visits. They lay a single white egg.

They feed on fish, squid and similar oceanic food. Some will follow fishing boats to take scraps, notably the sooty shearwater; these species also commonly follow whales to feed on fish disturbed by them.

Taxonomy[edit]

Traditionally, Puffinus has been grouped with the Procellaria and Calonectris shearwaters. However, more recent results[2][3][4] have determined that the genus is apparently paraphyletic and while in part very close to Calonectris, forms a clade with the genera Pseudobulweria and Lugensa, which were formerly presumed to be gadfly petrels, and can be divided in what has been called the "Puffinus" and the "Neonectris" group after notable species; the latter would if separated as a distinct genus be named Ardenna.[5] The former is taxonomically confusing, with species having been split and remerged in the last years.[3][4] Genus Puffinus

Fossil record[edit]

Comparison between P. olsoni and P. puffinus

Several fossil species which became extinct long ago are also known. The proportion of larger ("Neonectris") species apparently was larger before the Pliocene, i.e. before marine mammals diversified:

  • "Puffinus" group
    • Puffinus tedfordi (Pleistocene of western North America)
    • Puffinus nestori (Late Pliocene/Early Pleistocene of Ibiza)
  • "Neonectris" group
    • Puffinus conradi (Early Miocene of Calvert County, US)
    • Puffinus cf. tenuirostris (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Lee Creek Mine, US)
    • Puffinus sp. 1 (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Lee Creek Mine, US)
    • Puffinus sp. 2 (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Lee Creek Mine, US)
    • Puffinus pacificoides (Pleistocene of Saint Helena, Atlantic)
  • Unassigned
    • ?Puffinus raemdonckii (Early Oligocene of Belgium) – formerly in Larus
    • Puffinus micraulax (Early Miocene of C Florida, US) – probably "Puffinus" group
    • Puffinus sp. (Early Miocene of Calvert County, US)[6]
    • Puffinus sp. (Early Pliocene of South Africa)[7]
    • Puffinus felthami (Pleistocene of W North America)
    • Puffinus kanakoffi (Pleistocene of W North America)

"Puffinus" arvernensis (Early Miocene of France) is now considered a primitive albatross of the fossil genus Plotornis.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thompson, D'Arcy Wentworth (1918). "The Birds of Diomede". Classical Review 32 (5/6): 92–96. doi:10.1017/S0009840X00011549. JSTOR 699721. 
  2. ^ Austin, Jeremy J. (1996). "Molecular Phylogenetics of Puffinus Shearwaters: Preliminary Evidence from Mitochondrial Cytochrome b Gene Sequences". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 6 (1): 77–88. doi:10.1006/mpev.1996.0060. PMID 8812308. 
  3. ^ a b Heidrich, Petra; Amengual, José F. & Wink, Michael (1998). "Phylogenetic relationships in Mediterranean and North Atlantic shearwaters (Aves: Procellariidae) based on nucleotide sequences of mtDNA". Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 26 (2): 145–170. doi:10.1016/S0305-1978(97)00085-9. 
  4. ^ a b Austin, Jeremy J.; Bretagnolle, Vincent & Pasquet, Eric (2004). "A global molecular phylogeny of the small Puffinus shearwaters and implications for systematics of the Little-Audubon's Shearwater complex". Auk 121 (3): 847–864. doi:10.1642/0004-8038(2004)121[0847:AGMPOT]2.0.CO;2. 
  5. ^ Penhallurick, John & Wink, Michael (2004). "Analysis of the taxonomy and nomenclature of the Procellariformes based on complete nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene". Emu 104 (2): 125–147. doi:10.1071/MU01060. 
  6. ^ Wetmore, Alexander (1926). "Observations on fossil birds described from the Miocene of Maryland". Auk 43 (4): 462–468. doi:10.2307/4075132. 
  7. ^ Olson, Storrs L. (1985): Section X, H, 2. Procellariidae. In: Farner, D.S.; King, J.R. & Parkes, Kenneth C. (eds.): Avian Biology 8: 210–211. Academic Press, New York.

Further reading[edit]