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Photograph - Original Photography By Deborah Benoit
The eight living pelican species can be divided into two groups, one containing four ground-nesters with mainly white adult plumage (Australian, Dalmatian, Great White, and American White Pelicans), and one containing four grey or brown plumaged species which nest preferentially either in trees (Pink-backed, Spot-billed and Brown Pelicans), or on sea rocks (Peruvian Pelican). The largely marine Brown and Peruvian Pelicans, formerly considered conspecific, are sometimes separated from the others by placement in the subgenus Leptopelicanus but in fact it seems that while there are two main evolutionary lineages, species with both sorts of appearance and nesting behavior are found in either; the Great White Pelican seems to be the most distinct species, pointing to an Old World origin of the genus. Thus, Leptopelicanus (if valid) would include the American White Pelican too. The Dalmatian Pelican was considered to be a subspecies of the Spot-billed, though it differs in both nesting habits and morphology; it is now accepted as a full species.
July 20th, 2013
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