RE: birding-aus HBW and Tasmanian owls

To: "'Ken Tucker'" <>, "'birding-aus'" <>
Subject: RE: birding-aus HBW and Tasmanian owls
From: "Mules, Michael" <>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 09:23:38 +1000


This is a direct quote from Les Christidis concerning the specific status of Tasmanian Boobook Owls:

"The section in HBW has misrepresented our papers on DNA studies of the Boobook owls.  In these papers the Tasmanian Boobook Owl samples were included to represent the Australian Boobook.  There was never any suggestion that the mainland and Tasmanian Boobook owls were different species.  What we concluded was that the Tasmanian Boobook, as a representative of the Australian form, is the same species as in NZ and Norfolk Island.  We are in the process of writing up our data on variation in the Australian forms of the boobook, mainland and Tasmanian, and there is no suggestion that they are different species. So as far as the molecular data is concerned, Australia (including Tasmania), Norfolk Island and New Zealand share the one species of Boobook Owl, Ninox novaeseelandiae."

The references for these papers are:

Norman, J.A., Christidis, L., Westerman, M., Hill, F.A.R. (1998) Molecular data confirms the species status of the Christmas Island Hawk-Owl Ninox natalis.  Emu 98: 197-208

Norman, J.A., Olsen, P., Christidis, L. (1998) Molecular genetics confirms taxonomic affinities of the endangered Norfolk Islan Boobook Owl Ninox novaeseelandiae undulata.  Biological Conservation 86: 33-36

I hope this helps,

Yours,  Michael.

Michael Mules
Science Curator
8th Floor, 108 Lonsdale Street
GPO Box 666E
Melbourne  Vic  3001

Ph:   9291 2119
Fax: 9291 2139

    From:   Ken Tucker[SMTP:
    Sent:   Tuesday, 26 October 1999 3:28 AM
    Subject:        birding-aus HBW and Tasmanian owls

    Hello all

    I was today looking through a friend's Handbook of the Birds of the World
    and was intrigued at their classification of Southern Boobook on Tassie.
    Without the book in front of me it is difficult to remember all the
    scientific names etc. but basically the small, common Ninox on the
    Australian mainland is referred to as Southern Boobook and that in New
    Zealand as Morepork both with different scientific names. The Ninox on
    Tasmania is referred to as a race of the NZ Morepork with a comment that it
    may even be a full species separate from both Morepork and Southern Boobook.
    This thinking is at odds with my only reference (Pizzey & Knight) which
    calls the birds on Tassie Southern Boobooks. Is the HBW's view of things now
    the accepted view? What does HANZAB say? Would anybody in the know care to

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