The Number of Albatross (Diomedeidae) Species
Identifiers and Pagination:Year: 2012
First Page: 32
Last Page: 41
Publisher Id: TOOENIJ-5-32
Article History:Received Date: 24/03/2012
Revision Received Date: 14/04/2012
Acceptance Date: 16/04/2012
Electronic publication date: 27/6/2012
Collection year: 2012
open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode). This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
The basis of the widespread practice of recent years to recognise 23 or 24 species of albatross is critically ex-amined. In large part this can be traced back to an analysis which split the traditional species of albatross on the basis of theoretical fiat: the embrace of the narrow Phylogenetic Species Concept. The role of conservation concerns in albatross taxonomy is examined and rejected. Claims that introgression is likely to explain the low cytochrome-b distance found be-tween many “new” albatross species are rejected. An analysis of climatic conditions at albatross breeding colonies can ex-plain plumage differences in the ontogeny of albatross taxa, and plumage colouration can be related to differing environ-mental pressures. It is concluded that the variation among taxa within albatross taxa is ecophenotypic. Finally, it is sug-gested that a plausible mechanism for such variation can be found in epigenetics.