A few hours in Brisbane

To: "Norm Canton" <>, "michael hunter" <>
Subject: A few hours in Brisbane
From: "Lawrie Conole" <>
Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2001 17:22:55 +1000
>>The Action Plan for Australian Birds, released last year
>>has the following: referenced from Scodde & Mason 1999.
>>Sivereye (Lord Howe Island)    Zosterops lateralis tephropleurus, listed
as vulverable.
>>                                            Z. l. vegetus (Cape York)


These are not SPECIES in the sense that you appear to be using that term.
They are Schodde & Mason (1999) ULTRATAXA - more or less equivalent to what
have generally been called SUBSPECIES in the past.

>From the example above - Zosterops lateralis tephropleurus - is the
ultrataxon 'tephropleurus' of the species 'Zosterops lateralis'.  This
doesn't mean 'Zosterops tephropleurus' - though a future taxonomist may well
decide to take that step.  These classifications are not immutable.

>> I admit to being as confused as the next birder, particularly
>> as 'East Australia' is a nebulous description of geography at
>> best. I live at latitude 19* south,  approx 500 kms south of Cape
>> York and 1400 kms north of Brisbane and the only Silvereyes
>> I normally see are in the foothills of the ranges to the north of the
>> city, though a bird was sighted in Townsville (along the river) earlier
>> this year.  What race would the ones I saw when I lived in Canberra
>> (1990-1) be, or the ones displacing the White-eyes on Norfolk Island?

>>Can anyone shed any light on the name changes and ranges?

Schodde & Mason have cleaned up a few of the messier aggregations of
subspecies, which had been added to willy nilly by various authors over the
last 200 years.  This seems to be one of their rationalisations.  As for
which is which in the field - therein lies one of the marvellous challenges
set by the new scheme.  Why not read the descriptions and then see if you
can work them out in the field - then publish your findings.  Ready made
projects by the barrowload out there with all those ultrataxa all over the

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