birding-aus Sibley and Monroe

To: David James <>
Subject: birding-aus Sibley and Monroe
From: Ian Montgomery <>
Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 16:18:20 +1100

The taxonomy of Sibley & Monroe is rife with unjustified and subjective
decisions. Many people consider Sibley and Monroe to be convenient, but I
consider it to be substandard. It is an example of fashionable rather than
of scientific taxonomy (at the species level).

In defence of S and M (the people that is), I understand that they don't
claim to have worked at the species level.  Their DNA work was primarily
concerned with interrelationships between higher-level taxa.  It could be
claimed that their approach to this is much more scientific that
traditional approaches, so I think you are being a little harsh in
dismissing them as "fashionable".

A. melanogaster and A. (m.) novaehollandiae both exist as separate taxa.
what's the difference between subspecies and species anyway? and who cares,
apart from taxonomists and twitchers?

Elegantly expressed.  The difference I suppose is time which is also a

I use Sibley and Monroe in my database because I like their
reclassification of families etc and because their "complete" list was the
first one I found on the internet.  I wanted something which would help me
resolve issues like is the "Brown Duck" I saw in Ecuador the same taxon as
the "Brown Duck" in Botswana?  I hasten to add that I am not a taxonomist
and just needed an "authority" to help me impose some order on my birding

My tuppence worth.  Best wishes,  Ian
Dr Ian Montgomery, Marine Ecology, A11, University of Sydney, NSW 2006.
Ph: (+61-2) 9351 4786; Fax: 9351 6713; Home ph: 9818 4838.
Visit us at:
Some of my bird photos are at:
To unsubscribe from this list, please send a message to

Include "unsubscribe birding-aus" in the message body (without the quotes)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU