The African native parrot is considered a subspecies of Poicephalus Robustus. With genetic analysis, it has been proved that Cape Parrot is different from other two related subspecies
The Cape Parrot has always been considered a subspecies of Poicephalus Robustus, alongside brown-necked parrot and grey-head parrot. But now scientists suggest that Cape Parrot has its own distinct species and it should not be recognized same as other two Poicephalus robustus subspecies.
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The recognition of African native Cape Parrot is a heated debate for a long time. Scientists have observed that the structure, ecology and behavior of these parrots are noticeably different. The validity of these recommendations was investigated through DNA testing. Genetic testing and analysis provided more strong evidences in putting Cape Parrot into its own distinct species.
Getting the status of a separate species is especially important because Cape Parrot is threatened to extinction. Cape Parrots faced significant decline over the years. Their current population is less than 600 in wild and is now rarely sighted in forests. So, it may be listed as “Vulnerable” under the International Union for Conversation of Nature and Natural Resources list of endangered species. And better efforts will be made for protecting Cape Parrot.
Overall, Poicephalus is a rich and widely distributed parrot genus in Africa. The genus is broken down into nine species. One of them is Poicephalus Robustus which is further divided into three recognized sub-species, Cape Parrot, Brown-necked parrot and grey-headed parrot.
According to the latest analysis, Cape Parrot is significantly different from other two subspecies. Cape Parrots are smallest of the three and lightly structured. Their feeding and breeding behaviors were also observed different.
But, international conversation organizations require genetic data in order to give a full species status. The research aimed to provide convincing scientific evidence by using multilocus analysis and mitochondrial data.
Scientists are proposing a full species status for Cape Parrot on the basis of clear genetic differentiation of Cape Parrot from brown-headed and grey-headed parrot combined with difference in habitat, dietary and structure.
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The analysis was published in PLOS ONE