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Old Thursday 17th January 2008, 20:29   #51
griffin
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...so what? Waders moult at different time of the year, crossbills AFAIK at the same.
Moult is related to their breeding cycle. Parrots breed at a different time from Common Crossbills so they moult at a different time.
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Old Thursday 17th January 2008, 20:51   #52
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Lindsay,knowing by the hours and hours of work you put in with Scotbills,I agree with everything you say and people who have not even put a fraction of the time,that you have (in my opinion) dont really have an arguement.
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Old Friday 18th January 2008, 10:10   #53
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I agree with you here but only because we are still labouring under a Linnaean definition of species (at least to some people). It seems heresy to say this but I think we are rapidly approaching a time when we have to significantly revise our definition of speciation. I am not keen on splitting for the sake of it, especially if applied for birdwatching reasons on the sole grounds of physical appearance. Some of the gull splits are worrying, for example. However, I genuinely feel that our understanding of speciation projected against evolutionary theory has been over-simplified for too long. This means, we cannot possibly dismiss the Scottish crossbill on any level of technicalities simply because it has come to represent an important position in our understanding. In other words, the terminology is lagging behind the various threads of evidence and this along means we should look at protection.

Ian
Is it not possible that this is where we can take a sociological perspective towards ourselves, and our research into evolutionary theory?

I am the last person to want to disparage in any way the work of anybody who conducts all this research (mainly because I'm deeply envious of their profession and their efforts!), but how far do we need to take speciation? Originally, this compartmentalising of the natural world has obviously proven of enormous benefit to science, and the advancement of understanding. But I think it's equally a comment on human nature that everything has to go into a box, and then depending on further research, certain species go into smaller boxes, or sometimes larger ones.

As a birder I'm delighted that Caspian Gull has been split and is recognised as a full species. It presents an enjoyable ID challenge and I'm glad I can tick it. But given the complexities of large white-headed gull taxonomy, and the views of some that the Herring/LBBG can be viewed as one "super-species", how does this split benefit Caspian Gull? The gulls don't care, they'll breed/interbreed and live however they see fit.

That was genuinely a question based on ignorance , so any answers would be greatly appreciated. I always want to know more!
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Old Friday 18th January 2008, 10:46   #54
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But given the complexities of large white-headed gull taxonomy, and the views of some that the Herring/LBBG can be viewed as one "super-species", how does this split benefit Caspian Gull?
Of course the split does not benefit Caspian Gull, unless it suddenly becomes rare in the future and its recognition as an evolutionary unit of taxonomic importance will lead to conservation funds drifting in its direction. A highly unlikely scenario considering that large gulls generally do really well off the back of mankind.

I think you miss the point of the superspecies concept - taxonomic units that diverged from one another in isolation rather recently, and have subsequently remained largely or entirely geographically separated. There are many such examples.

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he gulls don't care, they'll breed/interbreed and live however they see fit.
Obviously not true, if they hybridised freely then we wouldn't consider them to be species. The problem is this whole complex is very young and poorly genetically and phenotypically differentiated, thus reproductive isolation between some taxa is incomplete. Its a post-glacial thing, just look at Zonotrichia sparrows and Dendroica wood-warblers they are genetically very close (so close that you even get intergenic hybrids) yet no-one would question their specefic status....

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Old Friday 18th January 2008, 10:49   #55
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Not sure if the last post (#53) was referenced in appeasement to myself but if it was I should make it clear I am not a 'professional' biologist (though I used to be) and neither do I have any affiliation with any organisation other than the BTO who issue my ringing permit. I do not get paid for what I do-thankfully. However, I like to think that my approach at least is thorough and is based on knowledge gained through experience in the field and not just by reading some papers or books.

I have said on other threads concerning Scotbill that I (and others !) deal in facts and evidence that have been 'collected' in the field. It is then our responsibility to 'report' these facts and the powers that be (BOU) can then determine the speciation of birds like Scottish Crossbill. They know much more about speciation than me, or are at least presumably applying consistent rules to such decisions. Bottom line, it is not 'my' problem !

I am not 'emotionally' attached to the 'idea' of a 'Scottish Crossbill', and certainly not for the principal purpose of political gain, whatever that may be.

Lindsay

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Old Friday 18th January 2008, 11:08   #56
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Obviously not true, if they hybridised freely then we wouldn't consider them to be species. The problem is this whole complex is very young and poorly genetically and phenotypically differentiated, thus reproductive isolation between some taxa is incomplete. Its a post-glacial thing, just look at Zonotrichia sparrows and Dendroica wood-warblers they are genetically very close (so close that you even get intergenic hybrids) yet no-one would question their specefic status....

Zander
Well, look at Thayers and Kumleins Gulls, and the debates that surround their species status. And don't Glaucous-winged Gulls hybridize freely within large parts of their breeding range?

We consider these birds species at the moment, but the situation is far from straightforward. However, if, as you suggest, this is a very young complex, then our knowledge of it's development will also be limited. We would have to follow it's evolutionary process "as it happens".

I'm afraid my knowledge of Zonotrichia sparrow and Dendroica wood warblers is pretty much zero, so I can't comment on that particular issue!
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Old Friday 18th January 2008, 11:20   #57
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Not sure if the last post (#53) was referenced in appeasement to myself
Yeah, it was really! I'm sure you don't give two hoots as to my opinions on the merits of your research - I'm just some bloke at a PC - but even so, I think it's wrong to be dismissive about somebody whose knowledge is based on countless hours in the field, actually studying the subject that we're all discussing.
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Old Friday 18th January 2008, 13:37   #58
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I tend to see BF contributions as discussion (thinking out loud, if you will) and this thread has certainly tended towards that direction. I would hope that no one here has been out to get a result in a debate scenario because we do not have enough information overall to do this. IMO, there are fair grounds for a massive review and overhaul of classification although I suspect it will not happen and we will be left with the awkward job of shoe-horning at times. This leaves the possibility of a growing acceptance of the concept of superspecies but this would be a compromise in many ways and dare I say, unacceptable to much of the world bird watching community.*

Ian

* I am partly against the superspecies concept because it is a gift for thos bl**dy creationists.
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Old Sunday 20th January 2008, 00:20   #59
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Well, look at Thayers and Kumleins Gulls, and the debates that surround their species status. And don't Glaucous-winged Gulls hybridize freely within large parts of their breeding range?

We consider these birds species at the moment, but the situation is far from straightforward. However, if, as you suggest, this is a very young complex, then our knowledge of it's development will also be limited. We would have to follow it's evolutionary process "as it happens".
Ok, we are going from some sweeping generalisations on the taxonomoy of large white-headed gulls to two specific thorns in the side of taxonomists. Kumlien's Gull is most probably a hybrid swarm between Thayer's and Iceland Gulls which are themselves poorly differentiated. Western and Glaucous-winged Gulls exhibit a step cline - in this case a hybrid zone that settles on a marine ecotone. They may not be each others closest relatives yet show bounded hybrid superiority....
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Old Tuesday 22nd January 2008, 00:36   #60
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Don't worry, Scot/Crossbill will be around alot longer than us!
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Old Sunday 15th June 2008, 17:23   #61
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Scottish Crossbill

If Scottish Crossbill is a species then shouldnt the same apply to Balearic, Corsican, Cyprus, African, "Balkan", and other races?
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Old Monday 23rd June 2008, 22:41   #62
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If Scottish Crossbill is a species then shouldnt the same apply to Balearic, Corsican, Cyprus, African, "Balkan", and other races?
Or to put it another way "If Balearic, Corsican, Cyprus, African, "Balkan", are races, then shouldn't the same apply to Scottish Crossbill!

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Old Tuesday 24th June 2008, 20:24   #63
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Or to put it another way "If Balearic, Corsican, Cyprus, African, "Balkan", are races, then shouldn't the same apply to Scottish Crossbill!

J
For many years Scottish Crossbill has been claimed to be the only endemic species from probably the most intensively birded/studied nation in the world. Despite much study, and observation by hundreds (thousands?) of birders each year in a bird tourism hotspot, it is quite astonishing that it is still one of only 60-70 species globally classified by IUCN / BirdlLife International as 'Data Deficient', i.e. in the same category as Vaurie's Nightjar, Sillem's Mountain Finch etc.!

Given the complex and yet to be understood worldwide variation in crossbills, it's hard not to conclude that otherwise conservative views on taxonomy were slightly stretched to allow the perhaps premature recognition of a national endemic (and possibly to provide additional justification for the conservation of Caledonian pine forest?).

[And then there's the prevalence of Parrot Crossbill in Scotland in some years, despite continuing classification as a BBRC rarity.]

Richard

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