To: "" <>
Subject: Scrubwrens
From: Martin Cake <>
Date: Tue, 8 May 2018 04:03:54 +0000
Some interesting discussion, but Graeme and others I think it is rather 
premature to be drawing the boundary delimiting Spotted Scrubwren from 
White-browed. In particular, note that Kangaroo Island’s ashbyi aligned with 
eastern birds on mitochondrial DNA in the recent Norman et al paper, though the 
authors did recommend leaving ashbyi in maculatus (on morphological evidence) 
pending further study of this glaring problem. Also note that on measures 
(bill, wing, tarsus) ashbyi aligns with eastern birds (rosinae) not mellori 
(see DAB), and that island forms often tend towards melanism.

There is plenty of morphological evidence of intergrades or historical 
introgression between the various subspecies in SA, as discussed at length in 
DAB and HANZAB. Clearly nailing the species boundary (+/- a hybrid zone) will 
require a multilocus genetic study with much better sampling across the whole 
area. Breast spotting, eye colour, etc just aint going to cut it. HANZAB 
discusses iris colour and suggests that though there is a broad geographic 
pattern, it is also variable within subspecies; also that south-western 
maculatus of wet forests do indeed have a yellower eye, suggesting it is 
habitat driven thus less useful for species circumscription.

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