in response to postings by John Leonard & James Mustafa among others, I agree
that the spotted/yellow-rumped pardalote Pardalotus punctatus/xanthopyge group
needs further taxonomic review. By the way, I studied vocalisations of the
south-eastern subspecies of Striated Pardalote P. striatus (which supported
their conspecificity) and cannot in fact recall writing about the spotted group.
It is not quite true to say there is no reported interbreeding of spotteds &
yellow-rumps. This was published way back in 1983 by JCZ Woinarski (Emu
83:80-86). I believe John's field study took place at Millwood Dam, Bendigo
Whipstick/Kamarooka forest (now part of Greater Bendigo NP, Vic.). I believe
some interbreeding has also been reported from the Adelaide region of SA but
don't have any details to hand.
This does not however mean the two should be lumped. As noted by others, the
vocalisations (of punctatus vs. xanthopyge) are distinctive and the habitats
occupied by each are quite sharply differentiated. The two taxa maintain their
distinct populations at the boundary of quite small isolated mallee remnants
surrounded by box-ironbark woodland in Victoria (e.g. Bendigo whipstick,
Rushworth Forest and even the Long Forest near Bacchus Marsh), as is seemingly
also the case in WA as noted by Frank O'C.Interbreeding over such a small
geographical area would not seem to preclude the two being considered separate
species, as is the case for the Eastern, Pale-headed & Northern Rosella group
(although being parrots, has science been thrown out the window to give them
special treatment not afforded to the less iconic small passerines??)
The two pardalotes should certainly be considered as ecological species under
one of the Phylogenetic species concepts, even if they don't quite qualify as
species under the Biological species concept. They would appear to be more
distinctive as a species pair than Yellow-throated and Black-eared Miners.
Genetic analysis? - bring it on!
While we're on the subject of splitting and lumping, how about the shrike-tits?
Obviously isolated geographically and distinctive morphologically, and
vocalisations also differ at least in some respects (see Graeme Chapman's
website for calls of Northern). What are the taxonomists waiting for ?
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