Hybridization of a lesser black-backed gull and herring gulls in Eastern North America

Julie C. Ellis, Steven M. Bogdanowicz, Mary Caswell Stoddard, L. William Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-345
Number of pages8
JournalWilson Journal of Ornithology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology


  • Avian hybridization
  • Gulf of Maine
  • Large white-headed gulls
  • Larus argentatus
  • Larus fuscus
  • Range expansion


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