Albatross Taxonomy

Subject: Albatross Taxonomy
From: Peter Milburn <>
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 17:56:42 +1100

has raised this spectre again.

My personal view is that since much research is in progress we have to be
satisifed with the INTERIM taxonomy as has been adopted in most of the
world by marine ornithologists.  It has to be emphasised that changes are
likely so one may only be authorative about the fact that revisions were
and probably still are necessary.

It is not time for a final definitive statement because all of the
information is not yet available.  Working definitions are useful however
and we are now able to discuss things more precisely even if we don't agree
on the accuracy of catagorisation.

The Short-billed Dowitcher question is a good example.  I used to look at
1000s when I lived in the US (13 years ago).  A lot of them fell into
convenient boxes but so many defied identification to the sub-specific
level in the field that I tended to believe that the birds themselves
hadn't organised themselves adequately viz. some of them do not know which
box to go and breed in!  However, SBD science has matured and if I were to
repeat this wonderful exercise today perhaps I would find differently.

I suspect that there will be further revision to passerine taxonomy as
research continues.


Dr.P.J. Milburn
Biomolecular Resource Facility
The Australian National University
GPO Box 334 Canberra ACT 0200  AUSTRALIA
Phone No.  <61> <2> 6249 4326
Fax No.    <61> <2> 6249 4326
E-mail Address  

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