Thoughts on ticking of subspecies

General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
fras444
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Thoughts on ticking of subspecies

Postby fras444 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 10:00 am

Talking about Subspecies which I am fascinated in...

I'd love to here your thoughts on ticking off multiple subspecies, nationalising our more unique endemic subspecies and protecting our subspecies from a influx arrival of a subspecies from Australia....

For example....

Can you or would you tick off a Boobook in Australia and a Morepork in New Zealand, Silver Gull in Australia and a red-billed gull in New Zealand... OR... If you came across a banded Pied shag from Australia happily content on living in a fresh water environment miles from the coastline... (haha how would you know he or she was happy being in fresh water...) and for that matter, a Australian banded Little Pied shag.
Imagine if you came across a clearly banded Australian Little shag/Pied shag hanging out with their New Zealand relatives. Would you be tempted to tick off two species of Black shag if you were to come across an Australian banded Black shag, are they be unique enough to list them in the Bird sightings and alerts section, are they unique enough to nationalise them as our very own endemic species.
If you came across a flock of banded Australian or New Caledonian Fairy tern at Mangawhai... Would DOC need to be informed to prevent another subspecies from potentially interbreeding and wiping out another Subspecies..

Some very interesting but very unlikely situations that we are very unlikely to come across but something that should be discussed should these events ever take place... Imagine seeing a banded Boobook in Kaitaia....
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RussCannings
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Re: Thoughts on ticking of subspecies

Postby RussCannings » Fri Jun 12, 2020 6:56 am

Hi Fraser,

I'm not sure what you mean by 'nationalising endemic subspecies '-- do you mean making a collective decision to elevate them to species status? And by 'ticking ' are you referring to a competitive life list or just the simple act of noting what one sees? I would hope that anyone who could confirm beyond a doubt than a cryptic foreign vagrant had reached our shores, would record this information and share. That would be exciting for sure.

Depending on your taxonomy, morepork (which includes Tasmanian birds) can indeed be considered a separate species from Southern Boobook.

With my ebird reviewer cap on though, I would implore that anyone wishing to enter birds on their checklists at the sub specific level, to only do so when there are multiple subspecies possible in that region AND the ID is possible. Particularly since most people cannot articulate the difference between the NZ form and others. For instance many people seem to want to enter things like Black-backed (Kelp) Gull, European Goldfinch, or Sacred Kingfisher to the ssp level when they can't actually list any unique diagnostic features. So in sum, no need to overcomplicate things sometimes.

Banded birds are fine :)

Russ
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AlanShaw
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Re: Thoughts on ticking of subspecies

Postby AlanShaw » Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:04 am

It's all about people wanting to put species, sub-species and races into separate boxes. Who are we to say when a sub-species becomes a species? Evolution takes thousands of years, during which time species may evolve or disappear. The Black Stilt is one such example-----without human intervention the species would almost certainly have disappeared due to the natural colonisation of pied stilts. Other emerging species could similarly be lost to colonisation by close relatives. When we elevate a sub-species to species level it is merely saying we expect it to continue diverging from its original species. By all means try to see different sub-species for your own satisfaction, but "ticks" are reserved for full species!
Jim_j
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Re: Thoughts on ticking of subspecies

Postby Jim_j » Sat Jun 13, 2020 5:50 pm

Just re the Pied Stilt/Back Stilt - my understanding is that the Black Stilt is actually the dominant bird.
The reason for the decline of the Back Stilt is mammalian predators and probably habitat degradation - with hybrids largely the result of Black stilts not having enough B/S partners to mate with.
From my observation Pied Stilts also now seem to be in decline - I'm guessing further habitat degradation?

cheers
jim
fras444
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Re: Thoughts on ticking of subspecies

Postby fras444 » Thu Jun 18, 2020 2:50 pm

RussCannings wrote:Hi Fraser,

I'm not sure what you mean by 'nationalising endemic subspecies '-- do you mean making a collective decision to elevate them to species status? And by 'ticking ' are you referring to a competitive life list or just the simple act of noting what one sees? I would hope that anyone who could confirm beyond a doubt than a cryptic foreign vagrant had reached our shores, would record this information and share. That would be exciting for sure.

Depending on your taxonomy, morepork (which includes Tasmanian birds) can indeed be considered a separate species from Southern Boobook.

With my ebird reviewer cap on though, I would implore that anyone wishing to enter birds on their checklists at the sub specific level, to only do so when there are multiple subspecies possible in that region AND the ID is possible. Particularly since most people cannot articulate the difference between the NZ form and others. For instance many people seem to want to enter things like Black-backed (Kelp) Gull, European Goldfinch, or Sacred Kingfisher to the ssp level when they can't actually list any unique diagnostic features. So in sum, no need to overcomplicate things sometimes.

Banded birds are fine :)

Russ



Yeah I was just wondering if our current list of subspecies, can we nationalise them as in, define them as a unique New Zealand sub-species, and therefore, can we can tick them off as a separate species for example, rename the Pied shag to a NZ Pied shag and a Australian Pied shag or the Little Pied shag to the NZ Little shag (as that our little shags from what I understand are quite distinct regards the all black except for the white throat) and the Australian Little Pied shag. For our rare subspecies and should our more common subspecies become rare or endangered. Nationalising the Red-billed gull and Fairy tern as a distinct species from the Australian ones and elevate them to the same level as our other endemics, so that they can receive the same sort of protection funding from DOC and the like.
Also as a subspecies in its current state. If we were doing a bird marathon and we were to come across a Australian banded Pied shag or Little pied shag in NZ would that be tickable species??

Depending on your taxonomy, morepork (which includes Tasmanian birds) can indeed be considered a separate species from Southern Boobook.

I guess I feel there should be some research into our subspecies and it would be very interesting to see what ones are heading further down that evolutionary track to becoming distinct species, what ones are separate from the Australian birds or still quite close. Regards with the Morepork, would you class our Moreporks as endemic or are they very closely linked to the Tasmanian birds

With my ebird reviewer cap on though, I would implore that anyone wishing to enter birds on their checklists at the sub specific level, to only do so when there are multiple subspecies possible in that region AND the ID is possible. Particularly since most people cannot articulate the difference between the NZ form and others. For instance many people seem to want to enter things like Black-backed (Kelp) Gull, European Goldfinch, or Sacred Kingfisher to the ssp level when they can't actually list any unique diagnostic features. So in sum, no need to overcomplicate things sometimes.

Banded birds are fine :)

Exactly mate, I guess that is where this question was more so aimed at, that is seeing a clearly banded Australian bird with it's subspecies counterpart. Where is the Kingfisher on the level of subspecies??? It use to be listed as a subspecies but it seems to be more of a variation to birds found in Australia from what I have read in the past. It is basically the same bird?
I have found out that the Black-backed gull is part of the Subspecies found on Tasmania. But it has been listed in many bird books as an endemic subspecies...

That's another thing to. In most NZ bird books. Our Subspecies are listed as Endemic as apposed to native. Which can be quite confusing in many aspects like ticking of subspecies, putting funding into saving a rare subspecies where that funding could be going to a rare endemic etc......
fras444
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Re: Thoughts on ticking of subspecies

Postby fras444 » Thu Jun 18, 2020 2:54 pm

AlanShaw wrote:It's all about people wanting to put species, sub-species and races into separate boxes. Who are we to say when a sub-species becomes a species? Evolution takes thousands of years, during which time species may evolve or disappear. The Black Stilt is one such example-----without human intervention the species would almost certainly have disappeared due to the natural colonisation of pied stilts. Other emerging species could similarly be lost to colonisation by close relatives. When we elevate a sub-species to species level it is merely saying we expect it to continue diverging from its original species. By all means try to see different sub-species for your own satisfaction, but "ticks" are reserved for full species!


That is why this subject is brought up. Could the Black stilt have naturally been bred out, not so much the Stoats and the like being brought over here, more so the habitat change that humans brought... Had the mammal predators not been introduced and the Pied stilts self-established themselves, would the Black stilts slowly been bred out? Or would the numbers of Black stilts and the Pied stilts naturally had reached a balance?

Having a study done on our subspecies would go along way in understanding these birds, finding out what ones are actually quite distinct and unique and what birds should be receiving funding should they find themselves on the rare list. What ones are effectively just part of a common species found elsewhere.
Jim_j
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Re: Thoughts on ticking of subspecies

Postby Jim_j » Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:56 pm

Re Pied/Black stilts - what ifs are pretty much impossible to answer..
From what I've read the primary cause of decline of the Black stilt was introduced mammalian predators for which the Pied stilt has better defences.
It's quite possible that Pied Stilts would not have established at all if there were no introduced predators as they seem to be the sub-ordinate bird - it may well have depended on how quickly the Black stilt could adapt to more modified habitats and if in fact Pied Stilt do have some competitive advantage in these modified habitats.
If you look at some of what were rarer endemic birds such as Scaup, Falcon, Whitehead - that not to long ago were seen to be in decline - they can and do adapt over time.

cheers
jim
Jan
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Re: Thoughts on ticking of subspecies

Postby Jan » Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:21 am

Genetically Kaki may be the 'dominant species', I'm not sure about that anyway; but interbreeding with the much more abundant Pied Stilt just ends up with a whole load of hybrids. If you are trying to suggest that Pied Stilt genes can be bred out of hybrid birds by breeding back with kaki, then that's just not going to happen, given the tiny population of kaki available. Changing from a largely forested environment to a farming and grassland one has favoured Pied Stilt, but if P Stilt had not arrived from Oz, then Black Stilt could probably have remained in a wider habitat range than the braided rivers of the MacKenzie Basin. They only just hang on there as the habitat is largely unsuitable for P Stilt and Kaki get preferential treatment by us.
Jim_j
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Re: Thoughts on ticking of subspecies

Postby Jim_j » Fri Jun 19, 2020 11:10 am

Oops sorry Jan - I meant dominant in terms of behavior (got no idea on genetics...)
Based this on an old "Wild South" documentary on Kaki - which showed they drove off the Pied from best feeding spots etc - and I believe it is the male Kaki that breed with female Pied when there are no female kaki around.

cheers
jim
Jan
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Re: Thoughts on ticking of subspecies

Postby Jan » Fri Jun 19, 2020 11:23 am

They may be dominant in habitats that don't suit P Stilt, but not neccessarily in more balmy climes. And there's a female Kaki at the Ashley river with a P Stilt male producing offspring year after year, so she must have been a juv. that travelled north and settled there. A very small number do travel even as far as Kaipara Harbour, but don't settle.

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