Galapagos Frigatebirds Genetically Unique

September 29, 2010
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Researchers from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Instititute have used genetic testing to determine that the frigatebirds in the Galapagos Islands have been genetically different from frigatebirds found elsewhere for more than half a million years. This has prompted calls for increased protection and a new conservation status for the approximately 2,000 frigatebirds that nesting the Galapagos.

While the Galapagos archipelago is home to a variety of unique plant and animal species, it was thought that the islands' frigatebirds should be genetically identical to those on the mainland coast of the Americas because the birds can fly hundreds of miles across open ocean.

A researcher at the institute said, "It's a great testimony to just how unique the fauna and flora of the Galapagos are. Even something that is so well-adapted to flying over open oceans is isolated here."

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