No more Javan Plover? – Further mixing the Kentish Plover complex

The Kentish Plover have always have been the subject of taxonomical debates (e.g. Snowy Plover Charadrius nivosus split from C. alexandrinus) and research outcomes were not always popular among birdwatchers (e.g. confirming the ‘White-faced Plover’ to be conspecific with Kentish Plover, Rheindt et al. 2011).

Recent paper published in Biosaintifika found no evidence of genetic differences between Javan Plover and Kentish Plover (Ashari & Astuti 2017). There are slight morphological differences between the two ‘species’ but Javan Plovers’ traits are way less conspicuous compared to Kentish Plover than that of to the ‘White-faced Plover‘. Genetic distance was found to be much smaller (1.2%) than other plover species (8-14%). Kentish Plover is widely overlaping in winter range distribution with Javan Plover (del Hoyo et al. 2017). Interestingly, this study didn’t include Malaysian Plover (Charadrius peronii) among the control sister species which morphologically and geographically is not too far from Kentish Plover.

Male Javan Plover

Javan Plover from Metro Marina, North Jakarta, Indonesia. © Eddie Swan (Photo was legally embedded from the photographer’s Flickr photostream)

As a result, the authors recommended Charadrius javanicus to be classified one of the subspecies of Kentish Plover and to be named as Charadrius alexandrinus javanicus. These findings very likely will be the subject of further debates in the birding world and might induce further studies on the taxonomy of small plovers.

Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) by Gyorgy Szimuly on

Striking male Kentish Plover from Dobrogea alkaline steppes in eastern Romania. © Gyorgy Szimuly

References cited:

Ashari, H., & Astuti, D. (2017). Study on Phylogenetic Status of Javan Plover Bird (Charadrius, Charadriidae, Charadriiformes) through DNA Barcoding Analysis. Biosaintifika: Journal of Biology & Biology Education, 9(1), 49-57.

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2017). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 May 2017).

Frank E. Rheindt, Tamás Székely, Scott V. Edwards, Patricia L. M. Lee, Terry Burke, Peter R. Kennerley, David N. Bakewell, Monif Alrashidi1, András Kosztolányi, Michael A. Weston1, Wei-Ting Liu1, Wei-Pan Lei1, Yoshimitsu Shigeta1, Sálim Javed1, Sama Zefania1, Clemens Küpper (2011). Conflict between Genetic and Phenotypic Differentiation: The Evolutionary History of a ‘Lost and Rediscovered’ Shorebird. PLoS ONE 6(11): e26995. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026995

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