Birds of Paradise and their taxonomy

To: "" <>
Subject: Birds of Paradise and their taxonomy
From: Susan Myers <>
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2001 15:53:17 +1000
Dear All,
Some of you may remember a posting I put on Birding Aus way back in March 
1999. It went like this (to refresh your memories):
>I recently heard some interesting taxonomic gossip re Macgregor's Bird of 
Paradise (BoP) & was wondering if anyone could shed a bit more light on 
>the topic. It appears from recent DNA studies that this species is in fact 
not a BoP at all but a very large honeyeater! This doesn't >surprise me too 
much because if it is a BoP, it's a rather odd one not least because it is 
monogamous. I am not 100% sure who >has done this work but I think Les 
Christidis had a hand in it. It will probably be published in an American 
journal. Sorry to be so >vague. Any comments, Phil Gregory & other New 
Guinea experts?
I have recently obtained a copy of the paper pertaining to this work. It is 
titled "What is not a bird of paradise? Molecular and morphological 
evidence places Macgregoria in the Meliphagidae and the Cnemophilinae near 
the base of the corvoid tree". The authors are Joel Cracraft and Julie 
Feinstein, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society London (2000). 
Cracraft and Feinstein have come to some fascinating conclusions based on 
their work. To sum up very briefly, they maintain that the molecular and 
morphological data support the placement of Macgregors BoP in the 
Meliphagidae and that the Macgregoria is a sister group of Melipotes - a 
New Guinea genus including Spangled and Common Smoky Honeyeater. They 
conclude that the Cnemophilines (Loria's, Yellow-breasted and Crested BoP) 
are not BoP's or bowerbirds (as they have been grouped with in the past) 
and should be placed in a separate group at the base of the corvoid tree 
representing an early lineage. They propose that the vernacular names of 
these birds be amended to Loria's, Yellow-breasted and Crested Cnemophilus 
(meaning 'lover of the mountain slope' apparently) and Macgregor's 
Interestingly, they also postulate that given these conclusions there is 
now no compelling evidence to support the conclusion that the manucodes 
should be included in the Paradisaeinae. In their words "Because 
cnemophilines and Macgregoria have been placed at the base of the 
paradisaeid tree, hypotheses of morphological, behavioural and ecological 
character-state transformations within the family will require reanalysis."
If anyone would like a copy of the paper, let me know and I'll mail you a 
photocopy. Anyway, hope you find this of some interest.

Susan Myers
ph. +61 3 9899 9303
fax +61 3 9890 8911

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Birds of Paradise and their taxonomy, Susan Myers <=

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