Herring gulls Larus argentatus, photographed by Ricky.

Belongs within: Larinae.

The genus Larus, previously used to include the majority of gulls, has often been restricted by recent authors to include the herring gulls and related species. These are larger gulls with white heads and grey or black backs. Taxonomy of the group has historically been complex with disagreement on the treatment of closely related forms at the species or subspecies level.

Members of the genus include a basal clade of large, mostly dark-backed species containing the Pacific gull L. pacificus, Belcher’s gull L. belcheri, black-tailed gull L. crassirostris and Olrog’s gull L. atlanticus; Olrog’s gull is found on the Atlantic coast of South America whereas the others are found around the Pacific ocean. Heermann’s gull L. heermanni is a distinctive species found on the west coast of North America with a medium-gray body, dark back and red bill.

<==Larus Linnaeus 1758 [=Dominicanus Bruch 1853; incl. Clupeilarus Bonaparte 1856]CC10
    |--+--+--L. atlanticusJT12
    |  |  `--L. crassirostrisBKB15
    |  `--+--L. belcheriBKB15
    |     `--L. pacificus Latham 1802BKB15, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
    `--+--L. heermanniBKB15
       `--+--+--L. canus Linnaeus 1758BKB15, M02
          |  `--L. delawarensisBKB15
          `--+--L. occidentalisBKB15
             `--+--+--*L. marinus Linnaeus 1758CC10, BKB15, L58 [=*Dominicanus marinusCC10]
                |  `--+--L. armenicusBKB15 [=L. argentatus armenicusFP64, L. fuscus armenicusFP64]
                |     `--L. michahellisBKB15 [=L. argentatus michahellesFP64, L. fuscus michahellesFP64]
                `--+--L. californicusBKB15
                   |--L. heugliniBKB15 [=L. argentatus heugliniSU93, L. fuscus heugliniFP64]
                   |--+--L. dominicanus Lichtenstein 1823BKB15, CC10
                   |  |    |--L. d. dominicanus (see below for synonymy)CC10
                   |  |    |--L. d. austrinus Fleming 1924CC10
                   |  |    |--L. d. judithae Jiguet 2002CC10
                   |  |    |--L. d. melisandae Jiguet 2002CC10
                   |  |    `--L. d. vetula (Bruch 1853)CC10
                   |  `--L. fuscus Linnaeus 1758JT12, CC10 [=*Clupeilarus fuscusCC10, Lestris fuscusCC10]
                   |       |--L. f. fuscusFP64
                   |       `--L. f. anteliusFP64
                   `--+--L. argentatus Brünnich 1764BKB15, S05
                      |    |--L. a. argentatus [=L. argentatus typicus Winge 1898]S05
                      |    |--L. a. atlantis [=L. fuscus atlantis]FP64
                      |    |--L. a. birulaiFP64
                      |    `--L. a. omissusFP64
                      |--L. cachinnansBKB15 [=L. argentatus cachinnansFP64, L. fuscus cachinnansFP64]
                      `--+-L. glaucescens Naumann 1810BKB15, S05
                         |--+--L. thayeriBKB15
                         |  `--+--L. hyperboreusBKB15
                         |     `--L. vegae Palmén 1887BKB15, S05 [=L. argentatus vegaeSU93]
                         `--+--L. smithsonianus Coues 1862BKB15, S05 (see below for synonymy)
                            `--+--L. glaucoidesBKB15
                               |--L. mongolicusBKB15 (see below for synonymy)
                               `--L. schistisagus Stejneger 1884BKB15, S05
Larus incertae sedis:
  L. affinis Reinhard 1853 [=L. argentatus var. affinis]S05
  L. barrovianus Ridgway 1886S05
  L. brachyrhynchus Richardson 1831S05
  L. ‘brachyrhynchus’ Gould 1843 non Richardson 1831G43
  L. elmoreiFP64
  L. glaucus Brünnich 1764S05
  L. graellsiiN10 [=L. fuscus graellsiiFP64]
  L. kamtschatschensisSU93
  L. kumlieni Brewster 1883S05 [=L. glaucoides kumlieniFP64]
  L. leucopterus Faber 1822S05
  L. livensJT12
  L. nelsoniS05
  L. ‘pomare’ (Bruch 1855) (n. d.) [=Gavia pomare non G. pomarre Bruch 1853, L. pomarae (l. c.)]CC10
  L. teruelensis (Villalta 1963) [=Totanus teruelensis, Tringa teruelensis]M02
Inorganic: Larus ridibundus minilorientalus Okamura 1987O87
Nomina nuda: Larus burdigalensis Lucazeau 1959M02
             Larus melanoleucos Boie 1844CC10

Larus dominicanus dominicanus Lichtenstein 1823 [incl. Larus dominicanus absolutus Mathews 1944, Lestris antarcticus Ellman 1861 non Lesson 1831, Larus antipodus Gray 1844, Clupeilarus antipodum, Dominicanus antipodum, D. antipodus, Larus antipodum, Larus dominicanus antipodus]CC10

Larus mongolicusBKB15 [=L. argentatus mongolicusSU93, L. cachinnans mongolicusVP89, L. fuscus mongolicusFP64]

Larus pacificus Latham 1802BKB15, CC10 [=Gabianus pacificusWS48; incl. L. georgii Vigors 1827WS48, L. pacificus georgiiM03]

Larus smithsonianus Coues 1862BKB15, S05 [=L. argentatus smithsonianusN10; incl. L. argentatoides Swainson & Richardson 1831S05]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[FP64] Fisher, J., & R. T. Peterson. 1964. The World of Birds: A comprehensive guide to general ornithology. Macdonald: London.

[G43] Gould, J. 1843. On nine new birds collected during the voyage of H.M.S. Sulphur. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 11: 103–108.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444–448.

[L58] Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii: Holmiae.

[M02] Mlíkovský, J. 2002. Cenozoic Birds of the World. Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press: Praha.

[M03] Morcombe, M. 2003. Field Guide to Australian Birds 2nd ed. Steve Parish Publishing.

[N10] Naish, D. 2010. Tetrapod Zoology: Book One. CFZ Press: Bideford (UK).

[O87] Okamura, C. 1987. New facts: Homo and all Vertebrata were born simultaneously in the former Paleozoic in Japan. Original Report of the Okamura Fossil Laboratory 15: 347–573.

[S05] Schalow, H. 1905. Die Vögel der Arktis. In: Römer, F., & F. Schaudinn (eds) Fauna Arctica. Eine Zusammenstellun der arktischen Tierformen, mit besonder Berücksichtigung des Spitzbergen-Gebietes auf Grund der Ergebnisse der Deutschen Expedition in das Nördliche Eismeer im Jahre 1898 vol. 4 pp. 79–288. Gustav Fischer: Jena.

[SU93] Sonobe, K., & S. Usui (eds.) 1993. A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Bird Society of Japan: Tokyo.

[VP89] Viney, C., & K. Phillipps. 1989. Birds of Hong Kong 5th ed. Government Printer: Hong Kong.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M., & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1–126.

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