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Derby, United Kingdom

Van Balen S.B.,Basilornis Consults | Eaton J.A.,17 Keats Avenue | Rheindt F.E.,Harvard University
Bird Conservation International | Year: 2013

Summary The Short-tailed Green Magpie Cissa thalassina, a member of an Asian lineage of uniquely coloured corvids, is represented by two subspecies, thalassina and jefferyi, that occur on the islands of Java and Borneo, respectively. The distinct Javan nominate form is poorly described in the literature and next to nothing is published on its biology and occurrence in the wild. We here document the biology and distribution of this taxon based on hitherto unpublished historical data and on our own fieldwork. We also analyse vocal data of jefferyi, thalassina and two other Cissa species and show that jefferyi and thalassina are well-differentiated, and that thalassina is bioacoustically more similar to another Cissa species from the Asian mainland. We also demonstrate important and significant biometric differences between jefferyi and thalassina that may reflect divergent adaptations to the environment, as well as plumage differences that may serve signalling functions. Finally, the application of a novel species delimitation test to our data suggests that jefferyi and thalassina deserve to be classified as biological species because their phenotypic divergence exceeds that found in many sympatric species. The revised taxonomic status of Javan thalassina invites a reconsideration of its threat status. Based on its restricted range, extreme rarity and threats by bird trapping and habitat destruction, we consider the Javan Green Magpie as globally Critically Endangered. Copyright © BirdLife International 2011. Source

Harris J.B.C.,University of Adelaide | Harris J.B.C.,Princeton University | Yong D.L.,Nature Society | Sheldon F.H.,Louisiana State University | And 7 more authors.
Raffles Bulletin of Zoology | Year: 2012

Few empirical studies have measured the effects of climate change on tropical biodiversity, and this paucity has contributed to uncertainty in predicting the severity of climate change on tropical organisms. With regards to elevational changes, most studies have either re-sampled historical systematic survey sites or analyzed time series of occurrence data at long-term study sites. Such data sources are unavailable for most tropical mountains, so other methods of detecting elevational changes must be sought. Here we combine data from published checklists, recent fi eld work, peer-reviewed literature, unpublished reports, birdwatchers' trip reports, databases of birdwatchers' observations, audio recordings, and photographs to compare historical (pre-1998) and current (post-2006) bird distributions on Mt. Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Records were carefully checked by experts on Bornean birds. More species are now known from Mt. Kinabalu, but historical data provided elevational range estimates for more species than current data because of extensive mountain-wide collections and surveys. Most elevational comparisons for this study had to be limited to the 1450-1900 m elevational band, where most of the recent work has been done. Information was compiled into an annotated list of 342 species from 200-4095 m. We present this list to encourage refi nement of the dataset and future work on elevational distributions on the mountain. Of 58 species with suffi cient data from 1450 m to the summit, 38 appear to have shifted their ranges (24 species upslope and 14 downslope). A total of 22 resident species have recently been observed above their published maximum elevation for Borneo. Some species that have shifted upwards, such as Chalcophaps indica and Pellorneum pyrrogenys, are now common or breeding at elevations above their published maximum. Fifteen species appear to have declined on the mountain, probably as a result of habitat loss outside the protected area. Several of the upslope shifts are probably attributable to climate change, but many downslope shifts may be artifacts of incomplete recent sampling. The upward shifts agree with the few other tropical range comparisons that have been published. Our approach demonstrates the viability of combining diverse data sources (of varying accuracy and bias) to detect distributional shifts from climate change. © National University of Singapore. Source

Rheindt F.E.,Harvard University | Eaton J.A.,17 Keats Avenue
Forktail | Year: 2010

The Banded Pitta Pitta guajana is widely distributed over the Greater Sunda Islands and Thai-Malay Peninsula. Up to six races have been described, but only three of them are distinct and were formerly considered different species: guajana from Java and Bali, schwaneri from Borneo, and irena from Sumatra and Thai-Malay Peninsula. We here revisit the species status of these three forms with morphometric, plumage and vocal data. We demonstrate pronounced differences in body part measurements and sex-specific coloration amongst all three taxa. Our bioacoustic comparisons also indicate differences in frequency and timing of the two main types of vocalisation among taxa, although further sampling needs to corroborate these findings. We further show that plumage differences-and probably also vocal differences-among Banded Pitta taxa are more pronounced than between sister species in three other Pitta complexes. We argue that the three Banded Pitta taxa should be classified as parapatric rather than allopatric, based on their frequent and ongoing contact during glacials when sea-levels drop to create land connections across their Sundaic range. Based on comparisons with other parapatric Pitta species, biological species status is recommended for the three Banded Pitta taxa. Ecological and habitat differences in the three Banded Pittas probably evolved to reduce disadvantageous hybridisation during extensive glacial periods of contact. Source

Bezuijen M.R.,P.O. Box 183 | Eaton J.A.,17 Keats Avenue | Gidean,11119 Hnin Si Road | Hutchinson R.O.,26 Sutton Avenue | Rheindt F.E.,Harvard University
Forktail | Year: 2010

The first published bird records in 97 years are presented for Kalaw, a site in eastern Myanmar, and compared with historical records collected 97-114 years previously. Recent (2005-2009) records for Kalaw include one globally threatened genus (Gyps vulture sp.), at least seven new distributional records and one new breeding record for East Myanmar, and two new altitudinal records for South-East Asia. Historical (1895-1912) Kalaw records include four globally threatened species and one new distributional record for East Myanmar. Kalaw retains the majority of bird species documented historically, but four species may now be locally extirpated (Mrs Hume's Pheasant Syrmaticus humiae, Black Kite Milvus migrans, Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus, Giant Nuthatch Sitta magna) and at least one other (Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos) may have declined. Over the past century, House Crow Corvus splendens and Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus have colonised Kalaw. A small but growing number of birdwatching tourists are visiting Kalaw which, together with some nearby sites, has probably received more recent bird survey effort than any other site in East Myanmar. Source

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