Re: ultrataxa

To: Rohan Clarke <>, Birding-Aus Mail <>
Subject: Re: ultrataxa
From: Lawrie Conole <>
Date: Fri, 07 Apr 2000 12:36:28 +1000
Rohan Clarke wrote:

> We're already changing our life lists??

Mostly just being provocative - it seems to have worked!

> When I first placed a list of Schodde and Masons (1999) proposed lumps and
> splits I add the following to the end of the posting ' I understand the
> proposed changes now have to survive the scrutiny and opinion of other
> experts. If they receive widespread support they stand as are, if they are
> disputed things may change again (nothing's set in concrete). The take home
> message for people with an interest in bird watching (in any one of it's many
> forms) is to identify and record birds to  recognizable forms (rather than
> just the currently accepted species level) wherever possible.'

Maybe I was offline when you posted that; I don't recall it.  I agree though
about IDing birds to the lowest recognisable unit available - S&M's ultrataxa
may be workable in most cases to that end.  I remember when I started birding in
the late 1970s, it was routine to identify 'Striated' Pardalotes as either
Striated, Eastern Striated or Yellow-tipped.  I have to confess that I rarely do
that any more - particularly if recording presence/absence by call.

> Having said this S & M (1999) remains a valuable work (I understand it's the
> first attempt to catalogue all subspecies  (ultrataxon) since Mathews early
> last century) that will raise awareness, encourage more careful scrutiny both
> in the field and in the museum tray and promote debate for years to come.

... and it has many implications for conservation biology as well.  Marchant has
already adopted these ultrataxa in his update of the bird action plan.  Where
newly recognised ultrataxa have come into being, there are some which are
immediately of conservation concern, but which previously were regarded as part
of a more widespread taxon of some kind.

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