3 species of White Tern [alba, candida, microrhyncha] proposed

Discussion about the evolution, relationships, and naming of New Zealand birds
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Michael Szabo
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3 species of White Tern [alba, candida, microrhyncha] proposed

Postby Michael Szabo » Thu May 12, 2022 2:08 pm

Species limits and English names in the genus Gygis (Laridae) [White Tern]
H. Douglas Pratt
Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 140 (2), 195-205 (2020).

The alpha taxonomy of the genus Gygis [White Tern] is controversial, with limited molecular studies contradicting distributional and phenotypic evidence that two Pacific forms, larger candida and smaller microrhyncha are separate species. This paper reviews evidence from the subfossil record, morphology, distribution and hybridisation, and vocalisations to conclude that Gygis comprises three biological species, nominate alba in the Atlantic, and two Pacific species [candida and microrhyncha]. It also reviews historical English vernacular names and proposes ‘fairytern’ as a group name for these members of the newly recognised subfamily Gyginae. This name maintains popular tradition but requires a minor exception to some current naming conventions. Proposed English names are Atlantic Fairytern, Common Fairytern, and Little Fairytern. The name White Tern should now apply only to the historical single species, and Fairy Tern remains for Sternula nereis.

Link to paper: https://bioone.org/journals/bulletin-of ... 0.a10.full
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Byrd
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Re: 3 species of White Tern [alba, candida, microrhyncha] proposed

Postby Byrd » Thu May 12, 2022 9:48 pm

Renaming them Fairyterns (one word) while also saying that Fairy Tern (two words) is being used for an entirely different species is just stupid. Gygis already has the name White Tern, why not keep the established name with qualifiers (Atlantic, Common, Little) instead of mashing "fairy" and "tern" together?
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Michael Szabo
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Re: 3 species of White Tern [alba, candida, microrhyncha] proposed

Postby Michael Szabo » Fri May 13, 2022 7:54 am

Yes, agreed. The birds that breed at the Kermadec Islands are candida so they would become Common White Tern if this proposed split is accepted.
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Oscar Thomas
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Re: 3 species of White Tern [alba, candida, microrhyncha] proposed

Postby Oscar Thomas » Fri May 13, 2022 11:10 am

Better yet, call them Noddies, since they're more closely related to noddies.
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Michael Szabo
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Re: 3 species of White Tern [alba, candida, microrhyncha] proposed

Postby Michael Szabo » Fri May 13, 2022 11:13 am

Yes, agreed. They are the oldest lineage of noddy.
NZ Birds Online lists White Noddy as an alternative name:
https://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/white-tern
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Mekal Covic
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Re: 3 species of White Tern [alba, candida, microrhyncha] proposed

Postby Mekal Covic » Fri May 13, 2022 6:41 pm

I agree that calling them “White Noddies” or “White Terms” is much better than Fairyterns due to the name conflict with sternula nereis.

I also personally dislike the naming convention of putting “common” at the beginning, as it makes the bird feel unimportant, but that’s probably a minority opinion. I would propose Atlantic White Noddy/Tern, Pacific White Noddy/Tern, Little [White] Noddy / Little White Tern (haven’t decided on a specific preference yet).
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Michael Szabo
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Re: 3 species of White Tern [alba, candida, microrhyncha] proposed

Postby Michael Szabo » Sat May 14, 2022 9:14 am

Both candida and microrhyncha occur in the Pacific Ocean, but candida has a range from the Indian Ocean into the Pacific Ocean, so Pacific White Noddy would not work for candida. Geographically it would be more accurate to call it Indo-Pacific White Noddy. Then microrhyncha could be Pacific White Noddy.
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SomesBirder
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Re: 3 species of White Tern [alba, candida, microrhyncha] proposed

Postby SomesBirder » Sun May 15, 2022 2:27 pm

What will this mean for the White Noddy/Tern that was recorded in South Africa in 2018? Only one person saw it, and the photos of it don't look good enough for an exact (sub-)species ID. Yet another demonstration of how identifying exact subspecies in case of future splits is becoming increasingly important, I suppose.
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Michael Szabo
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Re: 3 species of White Tern [alba, candida, microrhyncha] proposed

Postby Michael Szabo » Wed May 18, 2022 6:35 pm

Are there any photos of it?
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SomesBirder
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Re: 3 species of White Tern [alba, candida, microrhyncha] proposed

Postby SomesBirder » Wed May 18, 2022 8:07 pm

Two photos of the South Africa bird are included in this post:
https://m.facebook.com/groups/GlobalRBA ... 946265449/

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