Taxonomy Question

Subject: Taxonomy Question
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005 18:30:34 +1000
Lloyd Nielson's response sorted some things out for me!
        So then I got out my oldest and newest guides, for the history alongside his explanation. (Thanks to all of those who directed me, last year, to old editions of Cayley for exploration of scientific names!) Here's a comparison of Cayley 1968 with Morcombe 2004:-

The word 'Acanthiza', says Cayley, comes from the Greek, 'acantheon', thorny brake, and 'zao', I live.
        Cayley lists no races for the following:

- Whitlock Thornbill (Acanthiza whitlocki - from 'F. L. Whitlock (1860-1953), zoological collector, W.A.') - 'Now considered', Cayley says, 'a variety of the Brown Thornbill.' [But see Morcombe, below.]

- Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla - from the Latin, 'pusillus', very small)

- Broad-tailed Thornbill (Acanthiza apicalis - from the Latin, 'apicalis', tipped)

- Red-tailed Thornbill (Acanthiza hamiltoni - from 'Hamilton, brother of Gregory M. Matthews') - 'This bird', Cayley says, 'is now regarded as inseparable from the Inland Thornbill.' [And the name, by Morcombe's time, below, has vanished.]

- Inland Thornbill (Acanthiza albiventris - from the Latins, 'albus', white; 'venter', belly)


- Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla) - Morcombe lists five races: pusilla, dawsonensis, diemenensis, archibaldi, zeitzi. [Not one of these four latter names appears in Cayley for either species or races or, as he says, 'varieties'.]

- Inland Thornbill (Acanthiza apicalis) - Morcombe lists four races: apicalis, whitlocki, cinerascens, albiventris. [Since Cayley, cinerascensis is new.]

Comparing the distribution notes in the two books, it seems that Cayley's 'Broad-tailed Thornbill' became Acanthiza apicalis apicalis; and that his 'Inland Thornbill' is now Acanthiza apicalis albiventris - each, then, being a race of Acanthiza apicalis, the Inland Thornbill.
        Similarly, Cayley's 'Whitlock Thornbill' has moved away from being the Brown Thornbill variety he thought it to be, and become Acanthiza apicalis whitlocki - so this bird also is presently settled among the Inland Thornbill races.

Does this seem right??? (Editions of Pizzey and of Simpson & Day before the compact Morcombe seem to show, in their variances with this, some of the confusion/transition that these species/sub-species have been passing through.)


Whilst recovering from shoulder surgery, I am  -- at long last -- putting our Australian trip list from the winter (your summer) of 1993-94) into our computer records.  I have figured out most of the taxonomic questions along the way, but one remains unclear.
Our list has a sighting of Broad-Tailed Thornbill.  I seem to recall that even then there was some uncertainty about this as a separate species, and now it seems to have disappeared.  What I am uncertain about is whether it is part of the Brown Thornbill or the Inland Thornbill.  Google research pointed in both directions.
Thanks for any assistance.
Eric Jeffrey
Falls Church, VA USA


Judith L-A
S-E Qld
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

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