To Chase Or Not To Chase! Taxonomy !!

Subject: To Chase Or Not To Chase! Taxonomy !!
From: Ronald Orenstein <>
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 08:38:04 -0400
At 11:50 AM 17/07/01 +0000, you wrote:
To all you taxonomists - Simpson and Day call it Torresian Imperial Pigeon -
Ducula bicolor.  Pizzey and Knight call it Pied Imperial Pigeon - Ducula
bicolor.   Monroe and Sibley (A world checklist of birds) call the Pied
Imperial Pigeon - Ducula bicolor occuring in S.E. Asia.   They also list
Torresian Imperial Pigeon as Ducula spilorrhoa occuring in Australia. Has this bird been split? I have seen WHICH ONE in N. Australia? I am off to Thailand
in 3 days, so is it worth chasing WHICH ONE on the offshore islands near
Phuket? If these have been split then it would be a "Lifer" Cheers

Actually the treatment of the bicolor complex in Sibley and Monroe (electronic edition, availble from Thayer Birding Software) is more complex:

Ducula bicolor PIED IMPERIAL-PIGEON. Woodland, mangroves, coconut groves. Widely distributed in coastal regions of se Asia and Indonesia, mostly on small islands and islets (but absent from islands where close relatives occur), from Andaman and Nicobar islands, coasts of se Asia (except s Burma, w,c Thailand and Vietnam, but present on Con Son Islands) and Philippines s,e through Indonesia (except Aru Is.) to w Papuan is. (Salawati, Misool) and coastal nw New Guinea (Vogelkop). Includes D. melanura of the Moluccas, which may be a color morph of D. bicolor. D. bicolor, D. spilorrhoa, D. constans and D. subflavescens are closely-related.

Ducula luctuosa SILVER-TIPPED IMPERIAL-PIGEON. Woodland, mangroves, coconut groves. Sulawesi. Has been treated as conspecific with D. bicolor, but they overlap in north Sulawesi.

Ducula spilorrhoa TORRESIAN IMPERIAL-PIGEON. Woodland, mangroves, coconut groves. Aru Is., New Guinea (incl. is. along n coast from Geelvink Bay to D'Entrecasteaux and Louisiade archipelagos, but absent from far w), islands in Torres Strait and n Australia from extreme ne W. Australia e to ne Queensland and s to Mackay area. Winters n to New Guinea. Vagrant to Lord Howe Island and n New South Wales.

Ducula constans KIMBERLEY IMPERIAL-PIGEON. Semi-deciduous vine forest, mangroves, thickets near water. Ne W. Australia in the Kimberleys. Original description by Bruce (1989. Riv. Ital. Orn. 59:219). Type locality near The Loop, Prince Regent River, Kimberley Div., W. Australia. See D. bicolor.

Ducula subflavescens YELLOW-TINTED IMPERIAL-PIGEON. Woodland, mangroves. Bismarck Arch.,incl. Admiralty Islands.

Gibbs, Barnes and Eustace in "Pigeons and Doves" (Pica Press, 2001), though, consider constans and spilorrhoa to be races of bicolor but treat luctuosa and subflavescens as separate species. In their discussion they note that treating bicolor and spilorrhoa as separate species goes back at least to Goodwin's Pigeons and Doves of the World (1983). The paper by Bruce that recogized constans and luctuosa, however, merged spilorrhoa and bicolor. Gibbs et al note a complex pattern of introgression between bicolor and spilorrhoa in the Moluccas but state that "these may yet be shown to merit full allospecific status". The chief difference is the degree of black spotting on the undertail coverts.

In other words, the situation is unsettled, and you can probably treat them, for your own purposes, as you see fit.

Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2          
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