Re: Fw: [BIRDING-AUS] What describes a bird as a full species or a sub-

To: Michael J Hunter <>
Subject: Re: Fw: [BIRDING-AUS] What describes a bird as a full species or a sub-species?
From: Ian May <>
Date: Tue, 01 May 2001 14:33:56 +0930
G'Day All

I think this is an interesting subject and although Michael's comments may be just "tongue in cheek" to obtain a reaction from twitchers, well it worked, "come in spinner"!     In the late 1970's having the privilege to work with Shane Parker, we carried out extensive field studies of Short-tailed Grasswren (then known as the subspecies of the Striated Amytornis striatus merrotsyi ) in the northern Flinders Ranges    There are a number of easily identified field characteristics including taxonomic, behaviour and habitat variations that indicated that Short-tailed Grasswren were quite distinct from the typical mallee form of the Striated Grasswren.  Someone else may like to comment on DNA analysis and separation.

While in other parts of the world, some sub-species may have been classified as species to satisfy conservation management agendas, there is no reason to believe this has happened here and any assumption relating to the separation of Short-tailed Grasswren for this purpose is incorrect.   Within the known range of merrotsyi, a large percentage of its habitat has already been protected within Reserves and although it's a very shy bird and hard to see, it is relatively abundant.   At present it's conservation is secure and I am not aware of any person or group that could possibly benefit from the separate classification of this species.


Ian May

PO Box 666
Enfield Plaza   SA   5085
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