|This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (September 2012)|
|Seychelles blue pigeon|
G.R. Gray, 1840
- Madagascar blue pigeon (Alectroenas madagascariensis)
- Comoros blue pigeon (Alectroenas sganzini)
- Seychelles blue pigeon (Alectroenas pulcherrimus)
- Mauritius blue pigeon (Alectroenas nitidissimus)†
- Rodrigues blue pigeon (Alectroenas payandeei)†
- Réunion blue pigeon (Alectroenas sp.)†
Taxonomy and evolution
George Robert Gray named a new genus, Alectroenas, for the Mauritius blue pigeon in 1840; alektruon means domestic cock and oinas means dove. Alectroenas nitidissima is the type species of the genus, which includes all blue pigeons.
The Alectroenas blue pigeons are closely interrelated and occur widely throughout islands in the western Indian Ocean. They are allopatric and can therefore be regarded as a superspecies. There are three extant species; the Madagascar blue pigeon, the Comoros blue pigeon, and the Seychelles blue pigeon. The three Mascarene islands were home to a species each, which are all extinct; the Mauritius blue pigeon, the Rodrigues blue pigeon, and the Réunion blue pigeon. Compared to other pigeons, the blue pigeons are medium to large, stocky, have comparatively long wings and tails. They all have distinct mobile hackles on thehead and neck. The tibiotarsus is comparatively long and the tarsometatarsus short.
The blue pigeons perhaps colonised the Mascarenes, the Seychelles or a now submerged hot spot island by "island hopping" and evolved into a distinct genus there before reaching Madagascar. Their closest genetic relative is the cloven-feathered dove, Drepanoptila holosericea, of New Caledonia, which they separated from 8–9 million years ago. Their ancestral group appears to be the fruit doves, Ptilinopus, of Southeast Asia and Oceania.
The extinct Rodrigues grey pigeon (Nesoenas rodericana) was once assigned to the genus Alectroenas, but this was erroneous. In reality, it probably belongs to an undescribed genus, as the sternum's shape is very dissimilar in its details to that of Alectroenas or Columba, and indeed to any other living genus of pigeons and doves. It is most similar to that of the Gallicolumba ground doves or to a miniature version of the sternum of a Ducula imperial pigeon.
- Hume, J.P. 2011: Systematics, morphology, and ecology of pigeons and doves (Aves: Columbidae) of the Mascarene Islands, with three new species. ISSN 1175-5326 Zootaxa, 3124: 1-62. Preview ISBN 978-1-86977-825-5
- Goodwin, D. 1983, Pigeons and Doves of the World, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.
- Shelley, G. E. (1883). "On the Columbidae of the Ethiopian Region". Ibis. 25 (3): 258–331. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1883.tb07172.x.
- Hume, J. P.; Walters, M. (2012). Extinct Birds. London: A & C Black. pp. 134–136. ISBN 1-4081-5725-X.
- Cheke, A. S.; Hume, J. P. (2008). Lost Land of the Dodo: an Ecological History of Mauritius, Réunion & Rodrigues. New Haven and London: T. & A. D. Poyser. pp. 22–115. ISBN 978-0-7136-6544-4.
- Pereira, S. L.; Johnson, K. P.; Clayton, D. H.; Baker, A. J. (2007). "Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences support a Cretaceous origin of Columbiformes and a dispersal-driven radiation in the Paleogene". Systematic Biology. 56 (4): 656–672. PMID 17661233. doi:10.1080/10635150701549672.
- Shapiro, B.; Sibthorpe, D.; Rambaut, A.; Austin, J.; Wragg, G. M.; Bininda-Emonds, O. R. P.; Lee, P. L. M.; Cooper, A. (2002). "Flight of the Dodo" (PDF). Science. 295 (5560): 1683. PMID 11872833. doi:10.1126/science.295.5560.1683. Supplementary information (HTML abstract) Free PDF Supplementary information