Sooty Owl taxonomy

Subject: Sooty Owl taxonomy
From: Murray Lord <>
Date: Wed, 04 May 2011 04:45:44 +0000
The original paper that suggested Sooty Owls should be lumped on genetic grounds can be found at
But other more recent publications (eg Michael Wink in the second edition of Owls of the World) 
have advocated splitting them on genetic grounds.  I tried to get to the bottom of this in a 
thread at Bird Forums a couple of years ago – see half way down 

It is ultimately another biological species concept borderline case – two separate forms
are clearly closely related, but whether they are separate species or not has to be an educated guess; 
given their distributions don’t overlap one can only speculate whether they would behave as two species 
or one.  It was unclear from the genetic studies which form of sooty owl was most closely related to which.  
It suggests the possibility that the south eastern Australian form is more closely related to the north 
Queensland form than to the New Guinea one.  If that were to be the case, it would be wrong to treat 
the south eastern and PNG forms are one species and the Queensland one is a different species. Either 
you would have to lump all three or split all three.
The difference between what the genetics show for Sooty Owls and the logrunners is interesting.
Murray Lord


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