White-lined Honeyeater split?

To: <>
Subject: White-lined Honeyeater split?
From: "Murray Lord" <>
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2006 21:09:28 +1100
Not sure if this has been mentioned on birding-aus before; couldn't find it in 
the archives.  I have just been reading an article by Janette Norman, Frank 
Rheindt, Diane Rowe and Les Christidis entitled "Speciation dynamics in the 
Australo-Papuan Meliphaga honeyeaters".  The part that would probably interest 
Australian birders the most is the suggestion that the White lined Honeyeater 
actually comprises two species - the White lined Honeyeater from the top end 
and the Kimberley Honeyeater from WA.  This conclusion is reached on the basis 
that the genetic differences between the two forms exceed those between other 
forms that are clearly separate species.

{Frank if you're reading this and that one sentence misrepresents things please 
correct me - must admit that as usual with these sorts of papers the Methods 
and a fair chunk of the Results sections are lost on me!}

Following Terry's suggestion on how to provide long links, you can download the 
paper from

Having looked at HANZAB and some other books, it's interesting to note that the 
plumage differences between the two forms are - to put it mildly - pretty 
trivial.  In fact as recently as 1978 Julian Ford didn't even consider them to 
be worthy of being considered different subspecies.  To quote Schodde and 
Mason's Directory:

"upper surface of remiges and rectrices edged finely citrine; under-wing 
coverts ochreish-buff; belly greyish white"  (White lined)

"upper surface of remiges and rectrices without citrine edging; under-wing 
coverts pale creamy-buff; belly milky white" (Kimberley)

Given that Les Christidis was one of the authors, I guess we can assume there's 
a decent chance the next RAOU checklist will give this proposal some 

Murray Lord

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