Splits, lumps, taxonomies, check-lists, whatever.

To: Laurie Knight <>, Robert Inglis <>
Subject: Splits, lumps, taxonomies, check-lists, whatever.
From: Nikolas Haass <>
Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2013 14:43:37 -0800 (PST)
Hi Laurie,

I know that you are joking. You still triggered a response, although I wanted 
to stay away from this discussion.

Hi Birding-Aus,

Regarding species concepts, there is a nice review by the late Andreas Helbig 
and colleagues:
Helbig et al. Ibis (2002), 144, 518–525 (you can Google it and get a free pdf)
Maybe that helps a bit.

Taxonomy is very important and interesting for the scientific understanding of 
relationships and evolution. Someone mentioned the former Herring Gull complex. 
I think that this is an exciting example for how our past knowledge was proven 
wrong regarding relations between taxa. Unfortunately, the term 'species' is 
also very important for conservation. As an example, small isolated populations 
on islands receive way more attention if they are regarded a species as opposed 
to a lower taxon. This doesn't really make sense to me as I don't see a 
difference in protecting a population of a species or that of a (distinct) 
lower taxon (e.g. Indian versus Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross). 
Anyway, the topic is very academic as you may see in the above reference and in 
some of the responses to this thread.

On the other side, I don't really understand all the hype about lumping and 
splitting in the non-academic birding community (listers, twitchers, birdos, 
name it...). Why don't birders enjoy and document identifiable taxa? (some of 
us do - I know) Having "ticked" Crimson Finch clearly doesn't mean that you 
have seen evangelinae - a bird quite different from an "ordinary" Crimson 
Finch! And there are hundreds of similar examples. I believe that ringnecks, 
the blue-cheeked rosella group, the spotted pardalote group, shrike-tits etc. 
were mentioned earlier.

There was an overseas visitor on a pelagic (a year or so ago), who told me that 
he wasn't interested in Indian YN Albatross, because he had seen "it" 
previously. It turned out that he had only seen Atlantic YNA before. He uses 
Clements for his world tick list, which doesn't accept the YNA split. When I 
told him that Clements had accepted the Shy split into 3 species [cauta 
(including subspecies steadi), salvini and eremita], he was suddenly interested 
in seeing a Shy (he had only seen Salvin's before), otherwise he would have 
ignored it (as he did with the Indian YNA). 
Does this make sense? 
If you are interested in a bird rather than a checkmark or number on a 
spreadsheet, then you should have an actual look at the bird - regardless of 
its taxonomic status.


Nikolas Haass

Sydney, NSW

 From: Laurie Knight <>
To: Robert Inglis <> 
Cc: Birding-Aus <> 
Sent: Sunday, January 6, 2013 9:02 AM
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Splits, lumps, taxonomies, check-lists, whatever.
A "species" is something you "tick"



On 03/01/2013, at 7:42 PM, Robert Inglis wrote:

> From all this passionate discussion on taxonomies I am assuming that someone 
> (or some committee) has finally come up with a viable, scientifically based 
> and universally accepted definition of “a species”.
> Would someone be so kind as to tell me what that definition is.
> Bob Inglis
> Sandstone Point
> Qld
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