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Browsing by Subject "pääkomponenttianalyysi"

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  • Granroth, Janne (2019)
    The Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is among the most recent additions to the Finnish avifauna: the current breeding population dates back to 1996. Historical and archeological data clearly demonstrate that the 20th century breeding range expansion of the species in the Baltic region is a re-colonisation event. The two subspecies of Cormorant in Europe are the nominate subspecies P. carbo carbo and the continental subspecies P. c. sinensis. The Cormorants currently breeding in Finland belong to the subspecies sinensis. P. c. carbo lives on the coasts of the North Sea and North Atlantic and visit Finland only during migration. However, osteological evidence suggests that carbo was prevalent subspecies in the Baltic area during prehistoric times, only to disappear in the Late Middle Age (by circa 1500 AD). The subspecies of the Cormorant differ in average size and weight, the details of the plumage and the angle of the gular pouch. P. c. carbo is on average larger than sinensis. However, males are larger than females in both subspecies. The subspecies differ in their ecological characteristics, e.g. preferred prey, breeding sites and migratory behaviour. However, only bones remain from the prehistoric Baltic Cormorants and therefore, soft tissues or behavioural characteristics cannot be used for their identification. The known osteological measurements of the subspecies overlap, and it has previously been possible to distinguish only the two extremes, large P. c. carbo males and small P. c. sinensis females. Here, I looked into features that would enable distinguishing of the skeletons of all the specimens of both subspecies. The primary material of my Master’s thesis consists of 65 specimens representing birds of both subspecies and sexes. The material has been collected from the Baltic basin and the western Gulf of Bothnia in Sweden and the Åland islands in Finland. In addition, I examined 11 specimens of the subspecies carbo from the collections of the Swedish Museum of Natural History (Naturhistoriska riksmuseet). I focused on the most diagnostic elements of the skeleton: skull, sternum and the large bones of the limbs. Moreover, I examined bones that may be associated with ecological differences between the subspecies, such as the sclerotic ring, the os nuchale, and the length of the distalmost phalanx bone of the opposable hallux toe. I wanted to find out if there are osteological differences between the males and females or the two subspecies. The statistical method used for testing the hypotheses and examining subspecific averages was the analysis of variance (ANOVA). The measurements were also analysed with Principal Component Analysis to investigate the proportional differences. The bones of the two subspecies differed in particular in the length of the forearm bones. Reliable discriminating features also included the depth of the bill and the measurements of leg bones. These are subspecific adaptations to their preferred habitats, prey, nesting sites and migratory behaviour. The relatively short wings of P. c. carbo make it an excellent diver, but a less efficient flyer. This subspecies migrates shorter distances, and is able to overwinter relatively far up in the north. In contrast, P. c. sinensis is able to fly with greater speed and efficiency during migration to avoid adverse conditions. The depth of the bill is an important factor determining the snapping power of the bill, which makes P. c. carbo better suited for handling big or powerful prey. The contemporary Baltic Sea is warmer and less marine than during earlier periods. The current brackish environment seems to favor the subspecies sinensis over carbo, although human persecution may also have had an effect on the previous demise of subspecies carbo. My results support the view that the subspecies of the Great Cormorant are clearly distinct morphologically. My result also suggest that skeletal research is an underutilised method in bird taxonomy, and studying the proportions of bones helps to perceive ecological and biological differences between bird subspecies.