An Online mtDNA Tool for Identification of Neotropical Psittacid Species and Taxonomic Issues: A Study Case of the Amazona ochrocephala Complex


Parrots are among the most popular pets in the world and they are also some of the most illegally traded, particularly in Brazil. Some computational tools were recently developed by researchers based on molecular databases for taxonomy support, forensic identification and conservation purposes. In this study, the DNA Surveillance platform was used to build an online database tool for molecular identification of Brazilian Psittacids using DNA sequences of six mitochondrial genes. To illustrate possible taxonomic issues of the online tool due to interspecific hybridization or unresolved taxonomy, we focused on Amazona aestiva that is considered as one of the most common parrots in Brazil, commonly bred as pets, and considered to be part of a species complex with Amazona ochrocephala from South America. We provide three curated sequence databases, which allow the species identification of individuals or tissue samples of birds of the Psittacidae family using mitochondrial DNA markers, and a comprehensive description of a taxonomic issue involving the A. ochrocephala complex. The results obtained corroborate previous studies suggesting that these species are not reciprocally monophyletic, due to either an ancient hybridization in central Brazil, or, they maybe just are morpho-varieties of the same species. Alternatively, if A. aestiva and A. ochrocephala were considered as sister species, the data could be interpreted either as a result of secondary contact or incipient speciation. Beyond the use of mtDNA for species identification, the high mtDNA haplotype diversity observed in A. aestiva indicates its potential use in discrimination of lineages that could be an important auxiliary tool to certify the captive origin of legally commercialized parrots.

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Chaves, A. , Queiroz-Filho, R. , Silva, F. , Miyaki, C. and Santos, F. (2014) An Online mtDNA Tool for Identification of Neotropical Psittacid Species and Taxonomic Issues: A Study Case of the Amazona ochrocephala Complex. Natural Resources, 5, 634-652. doi: 10.4236/nr.2014.511056.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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