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

Subject: Splits, lumps, taxonomies, check-lists, whatever.
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Sun, 06 Jan 2013 21:00:57 +0800

Thanks to Bob Inglis for discussing this. It is a subject that needs to be revisited annually.

A few comments on his detailed contribution.

C&B2008 is not the only "Australian" taxonomy. The CSIRO has one, which is used by the Australian Government in legislation. In Western Australia, the WA Museum has its own (which I believe is used in WA government legislation). It is not a simple task to change the taxonomy for the Australian or WA governments. This could very well mean that legislation needs to be amended to reflect the changes.

It is not a simple decision for BirdLife Australia to adopt a new taxonomy. I believe that BARC has recommended that BA adopt a "living" taxonomy, and has suggested the IOC rather than the BirdLife International taxonomy. BA has many projects such as the Atlas. It is quite a big task to change the taxonomy for projects such as that. It is not something that you want to do every 3 months or so when the IOC issues an update. Even annually. It is not just a case of reprinting forms.

Bob mentions that he wants it mostly to be able to name his photos. I have my own photos, and I also catalogue the photos for the BirdLife WA digital image library. I name the photos such as "Restless Flycatcher nana" and "Restless Flycatcher inquieta". This really isn't a big deal when the taxonomy is updated. The big deal is that the order of everything changes. The order of the families, and the order within the families. This requires a lot of work changing bird lists, spreadsheets, folders, etc.

So we need to accept that taxonomies change (and that this is a good thing); that there will be different taxonomies (and this can't be avoided); that BA will at some point update its taxonomy (to reflect changes such as Swan River Honeyeater, Western Ground Parrot, Western Grasswren, Western Quail-thrush, etc) but that it won't do it very often; and this discussion will (properly) reoccur at fairly frequent intervals on birding-aus.

Frank O'Connor           Birding WA
Phone : (08) 9386 5694 Email :

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