Just a brief comment as a result of reading Rohan Clarke's message
concerning the Directory of Australian Birds (the new publication by
Schodde & Mason).
Firstly, many thanks due to Rohan for a detailed account of the proposed
species lumpings and splittings. I would be very interested to obtain the
book, and would think it was $180 well-spent.
Secondly, I very much support Rohan's take-home message. In the number of
years I have been watching birds, I have always recorded/noticed the
different forms/races/geographic variations/mutations in all birds I see.
At present, I am studying terrestrial birds across northern Victoria,
mainly along the Murray River. The main focus of my study ( a M. Sc, at
Deakin Uni) is to examine the river's potential as a biogeographic
corridor/intrusion of mesic red gum vegetation, from wetter temperate
environments in north-east Vic, to much drier semi-arid landscapes of the
mallee region. I am comparing bird faunas at various points along the
river, not only with each other, but with a directly adjacent non-riparian
site (ie. at Barmah for instance, red gum birds compared with Grey Box
woodland birds; at Hattah, red gum compared with mallee scrub).
So getting back to the 'take home' message. At Hattah for example, I see a
range of species at my study sites. Some are adapted to wetter forest
environments, and occur only along the Murray in red gum habitat (although
it is a typically dry landscape). The Spotted Pardalote race punctatus
punctatus occurs in the red gum, yet at the mallee sites, the formerly
known as Yellow-rumped Pardalote (now Spotted Pardalote race punctatus
xanthopygus) is present. The same can be said for the Varied Sittella
(race chrysoptera chrysoptera or Orange-winged in red gum and race
chrysoptera pileata in the mallee.
Other splits include Brown Thornbill race pusilla pusilain red gum (eastern
areas) and race pusilla apicalis in the mallee, Grey Currawong race
versicolor versicolor in Grey Box in the east, and race versicolor
melanoptera in the mallee, Noisy Miner race melanocephala melanocephala all
along the river (and away from the river at eastern sites) and race
melanocephala flavigula in the mallee). etc. etc. etc.
I regard the geographic races as different species, just as one would
compare Superb Fairy-wren with Splendid Fairy-wren. For my study, it
highlights the influence of riparian red gum habitat on the distribution of
wet forest adapted birds, and highlights the distinct differences between
the riparian fauna and the adjacent non-riparian fauna.
I eagerly await my copy of this new book, with an interest in seeing the
new taxonomic changes. I still like the 'old' system, where races are
known as individual species. Rather confusing seeing a Crimson Rosella and
saying it's a Blue-cheeked, Yellow Rosella..............
Thumbs-up to Rohan. Good work!!
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