Larus armenicus

(last update: 7-9-2010)

Amir Ben Dov (Israel)
Mars Muusse (Netherlands)


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armenicus info
armenicus iris speckling

Phenotypic characterization, taxonomic rank and phylogenetic relationships of Armenian Gull Larus armenicus

Dorit Liebers & Andreas J. Helbig

published: Limicola 13-6, 1999 (in German, with English summary)

Fig 18: Larus armenicus and michahellis, three types of wing-tip patterns. Illustrations: Dorit Liebers.

The amount of black in armenicus the outer-wing is extensive, and reaches over the outer 7 primaries (but aware of birds in complete moult process by late May 1999, so inner primaries not present in most birds). The wing-tip showed obvious more black than in cachinnans, but it is only slightly more black than is found in michahellis. The inner-web of P10 has no sharply demarcated white or pale grey ‘tongue’ (as is prominent and typical in both cachinnans and barabensis), the base of P10 has black almost reaching the greater primary coverts and the transition is gradually, not sharply defined.

On the inner-web of P9 the grey ‘tongue’ is more obvious, but still not reaching far down to the primary tip as it does in cachinnans and barabensis. In general, the pattern of the outer primaries is similar to that in michahellis, easily distinguished from cachinnans and barabensis.

Type I:
In most birds a white mirror was only present on P10 (79% no mirror on P9), where it covers both inner and outer-web, but some birds showed a limited P10 mirror only on the inner-web (Tuz & Van Golu, n = 232, birds scored from randomly photographed alarming adults over the colony. Double-scorings can not be excluded in a flock of gulls. Very small P9 mirrors probably missed in such photographs, an example may be Fig. 20, which should illustrate Type I birds with only a mirror on P10, while the picture may also show a bird with a very small mirror on P9). This is close to the figure of 72% given for armenicus from Lake Sevan in Armenia (n = 42, Buzun 1993a).

Type II:
About 20% of the birds from Tuz and Van Golu showed a mirror on P10 and also one on P9, which often was a small, rounded, white spot on the inner-web.

Type III:
In this type, the white tip of P10 is merged with the mirror (hence, the sub-terminal black band is broken or lacking) and the mirror on P9 is relatively large, also covering part of the outer-web of P9. Only 2 birds on Tuz Golu showed this pattern (0.9%). This pattern, with more white in the wing-tip, is commonly found in michahellis.

There is a significant difference in the frequency of occurrence of these three types, when the three interior colonies are compared to michahellis-colonies (chi2, p<0.001). That is, armenicus showed significantly less white in the wing-tip that michahellis (80% of michahellis has a mirror on both P9 and P10 and they more often show a broken sub-terminal band). Barabensis, scored in Lake Tengiz in Kazakhstan, also more often has mirrors on both P9 and P10 (77% of the breeding birds, small sample size, n = 22). All birds were sexed using molecular markers, and there appeared to be no sex-difference in the number of primaries with white mirrors.

The white tips of the primaries were worn by the end of May and early June. Even in fresh feathers, the primary tips are relatively small in armenicus.