Black-necked (Satin) Stork genetics

To: "Jeff Davies" <>, "'Birding-aus'" <>
Subject: Black-necked (Satin) Stork genetics
From: "Greg & Val Clancy" <>
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 2009 17:14:27 +1100
Hi Jeff,

I have not seen the Asian subspecies in the flesh but from the numerous photos that I have seen I can't tell the difference between the two subspecies on plumage colouration. I, also, don't agree that Australian birds are necessarily greener than Asian birds. I examined a recently dead Stork in direct sunlight and its black plumage had a very blue sheen all over it, apart from the purple crown. Examining the same bird under the artificial lights of the Australian Museum the sheen was clearly a green colour. For this reason when Walter Boles advised me that they were considering describing the two races as separate species I was not convinced that this was warranted. I only changed my mind when he told me the results of the genetic analysis. The two samples were genetically quite distant, strongly suggesting that speciation has occurred. As one specimen was of unknown provenance Walter and Les decided to defer splitting the species until further genetic work is carried out.

Clearly with the Black-necked Stork more genetic analysis is needed but if further work supports the limited existing evidence then a strong case for separating the races as species can be made. I am not convinced that just because they look superficially similar that they can't be separate species. Bassian and Russet-tailed Thrushes look similar from a distance. It would be good to be able to closely examine the museum collections of both Australasian birds and Asian birds to see if there are subtle plumage or morphometric differences.

There is presently very little plumage and morphometric data available on the species in either region. I have gathered a little during the past few years and the specimens held at the Australian Museum are also a source of this data..

Greg Clancy
Coutts Crossing

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