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Formicivora paludicola

Birds isolated by marshes

São Paulo marsh antwren: strong genetic divergence between populations

Glaucia del-rioSão Paulo marsh antwren: strong genetic divergence between populationsGlaucia del-rio

Officially described in late 2013, the São Paulo marsh antwren (Formicivora paludicola) is found in only 15 marshy areas near the sources of the Tietê and Paraíba do Sul Rivers, around the São Paulo Metropolitan Region.  A study coordinated by researchers at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) and the São Paulo State University (Unesp) Botucatu campus, focusing on antwrens from the three largest marshes, indicates that the populations of each region exhibit levels of genetic structuring and differentiation only seen before in groups of birds that inhabit isolated mountaintops in Africa (PLOS One, October 8, 2015).  The three marshes are located approximately 60 kilometers away from each other, and each of their populations seems to show high levels of adaptation to local conditions.  For that reason, the authors of the work recommend avoiding the transfer of specimens from one location to another.  The article also includes some relatively optimistic information about the species, which has been identified as critically threatened ever since its discovery: the total population of São Paulo marsh antwrens may number 600 birds, twice the initial estimate.