Abstract

We present the first confirmed case of hybridization between a Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) and Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) in North America (outside of Greenland). We discovered a Lesser Black-backed Gull × Herring Gull pair on Appledore Island, Maine in 2007. Nuclear DNA analysis indicated that the Lesser Black-backed Gull was the genetic parent of the chicks from 2008 to 2011. The offspring have not returned to breed, so we do not know if they are fertile. Increasing numbers of observations of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, including putative Lesser Black-backed Gull × Herring Gull hybrids along the Atlantic coast, indicate that Lesser Black-backed Gulls may be in the process of colonizing North America. If so, additional hybridization with Herring Gulls is likely in areas of overlap.

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