BirdLife 2014 Splits and Lumps

To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: BirdLife 2014 Splits and Lumps
From: Phil & Sue Gregory <>
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2014 17:32:46 +1000
I just saw the latest version of splits and lumps from BirdLife, see the 
thread on Birdforum or google BIrdLife 2014 Splits and lumps.

Certainly plenty of splits, but a couple of very irritating lumps as 
well, as according to them Norfolk (Is) Parakeet or Tasman Parakeet and 
New Caledonian Parakeet are part of Red-crowned Parakeet, seemingly 
because they don't fit the Tobias et al criteria of basically looking 
significantly different. This seems to be a classic case of applying 
criteria where they don't really work and ignoring everything else ( 
genetic evidence such as it is, the evolutionary history of the islands 
with many other endemic species-level taxa (and more to come, hello 
Norfolk Is Whistler....)

Also, and I know this doesn't count as reason for splitting or indeed 
lumping, but I for one am bothered  by a potential change in 
conservation status from CR  (if it's not, why not?) for the Norfolk Is 
(Tasman) Parakeet to I think Near Threatened if taken as part of the NZ 
Red-crowned Parakeet. With a national government slashing costs left 
right and centre and conservation being relegated to the margins this is 
possibly highly regrettable. My suggestion to BirdLife was basically 
leave well enough alone, this is all a matter of opinion anyway and can 
be interpreted either way, but a change that has possible negative 
conservation impacts ought to be avoided at this time.

My thoughts on the Tobias criteria are that they are fine in many cases, 
but it won't work for groups that are not well differentiated by plumage 
e.g. Meliphaga, Collocalia, the dreaded Tapaculos etc, and as ever all 
factors need to be considered.

On a cheerier note (maybe), you do now get 12 for the price of one from 
the aptly named Variable Dwarf Kingfisher, I just wonder how these 
actually work if measured using Tobias et al criteria, since many (not 
all) seem to vary only in shades of body and bill colouration?
Ceyx (lepidus) magarethae       Dimorphic Dwarf (Variable) Kingfisher
Ceyx (lepidus) wallacii Sula Dwarf (Variable) Kingfisher
Ceyx (lepidus) cajeli   Buru Dwarf (Variable) Kingfisher
Ceyx (lepidus) solitarius       New Guinea Dwarf (Variable) Kingfisher
Ceyx (lepidus) dispar   Manus Dwarf (Variable) Kingfisher
Ceyx (lepidus) mulcatus New Ireland Dwarf (Variable) Kingfisher
Ceyx (lepidus) sacerdotis       New Britain Dwarf (Variable) Kingfisher
Ceyx (lepidus) meeki    North Solomons Dwarf (Variable) Kingfisher
Ceyx (lepidus) collectoris      New Georgia Dwarf (Variable) Kingfisher
Ceyx (lepidus) nigromaxilla     Guadalcanal Dwarf (Variable) Kingfisher
Ceyx (lepidus) gentianus        Makira Dwarf (Variable) Kingfisher

Ghana beckons, but if you feel like it do lobby BirdLife about the 
Tasman Parakeet and its New Caledonian sibling.......
Oh, and don't forget the poor old Manus Masked Owl which is likewise 
being written out of history despite being basically totally unknown and 
Data Deficient if not Critically Endangered. Zoogeographic 
nonsense......... and with that I'm away to Ghana

Phil Gregory

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