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Five new extinct species of rails

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Old Thursday 10th December 2015, 05:26   #1
Fred Ruhe
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Five new extinct species of rails

JOSEP ANTONI ALCOVER, HARALD PIEPER, FERNANDO PEREIRA, JUAN CARLOS RANDO, 2015

Five new extinct species of rails (Aves: Gruiformes: Rallidae) from the Macaronesian Islands (North Atlantic Ocean)

Zootaxa 4057 (2): 151–190
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4057.2.1

Part of the pdf: http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2015/f/z04057p190f.pdf

Abstract



Five new species of recently extinct rails from two Macaronesian archipelagoes (Madeira and Azores) are described. All the species are smaller in size than their presumed ancestor, the European rail Rallus aquaticus. Two species inhabited the Madeira archipelago: (1) Rallus lowei n. sp., the stouter of the species described herein, was a flightless rail with a robust tarsometatarsus and reduced wings that lived on Madeira Island; (2) Rallus adolfocaesaris n. sp., a flightless and more gracile species than its Madeiran counterpart, inhabited Porto Santo. So far, six Azorean islands have been paleontologically explored, and the remains of fossil rails have been found on all of them. Here we formally describe the best-preserved remains from three islands (Pico, São Miguel and São Jorge): (1) Rallus montivagorum n. sp., a rail smaller than R. aquaticus with a somewhat reduced flying capability, inhabited Pico; (2) Rallus carvaoensis n. sp., a small flightless rail with short and stout legs and a bill apparently more curved than in R. aquaticus, was restricted to São Miguel; (3) Rallus minutus n. sp., a very small (approaching Atlantisia rogersi in size) flightless rail with a shortened robust tarsometatarsus, lived in São Jorge. We note also the presence of rail fossils on three other Azorean islands (Terceira, Graciosa and Santa Maria). In addition, we describe an extraordinarily complete fossil of an unnamed Rallus preserved in silica from the locality of Algar do Carvão on Terceira.

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Fred Ruhe
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Old Thursday 10th December 2015, 07:55   #2
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Although not indicated as open access, the preview is opening the full article at the moment. [pdf]

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Old Thursday 10th December 2015, 09:08   #3
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Although not indicated as open access, the preview is opening the full article at the moment. [pdf]
The pages 152-160 are still missing.
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Old Thursday 10th December 2015, 09:38   #4
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The pages 152-160 are still missing.
Yes, sadly you're right, Fred. Nevertheless, it's unusual for Zootaxa to provide a 31-page preview!
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Old Friday 11th December 2015, 02:32   #5
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Is anyone here who can explain why Rallus minutus is an available name despite the fact that Georg Forster used that name for his painting of Zapornia nigra?

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Old Friday 11th December 2015, 02:46   #6
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Is anyone here who can explain why Rallus minutus is an available name despite the fact that Georg Forster used that name for his painting of Zapornia nigra?
Not only that, but there is also Rallus minutus Gmelin, 1789 -- which is a synonym of Rallus flaviventer Boddaert, 1783.
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Old Friday 11th December 2015, 09:30   #7
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I informed Dr. Alcover on the preoccupatuon:

Dear Dr. Alcover,

I am sorry to inform you that I think the name Rallus minutus is preoccupied: Georg Forster used that name for his painting of Zapornia nigra and there is Rallus minutus Gmelin, 1789, a junior synonym of Rallus flaviventer Boddaert, 1783.

Hope to have informed you correctly,

Sincerely,

Fred Ruhe
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Old Friday 11th December 2015, 11:15   #8
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Dr. Alcover replied that the authors will search the literature and will try to emend the name as soon as possible.

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Old Friday 11th December 2015, 12:06   #9
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I just received another mail from Dr. Alcover:

Hi, Fred:

You are right. What a disaster!. I will contact Trevor Worthy to see if it is possible to publish a short emmendatio nominis. There is also another Rallus minutus published by Forster in 1844 (now Nesophylax nifer). Buff!

Yours,

Josep Antoni Alcover

All the best,

Fred
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Old Friday 11th December 2015, 13:34   #10
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Just to be clear... Although Georg Forster indeed titled his painting "Rallus minutus", this painting was never published under this name: this in itself was not a real problem. A modified version of the painting was published by Miller in 1784, but with the name changed to "Rallus nigra". (There's a partial exemplar of Miller's work [on Gallica] but it lacks this plate, unfortunately. The Tahiti Crake page on Wikipedia has reproductions of both Georg's painting [on the right], and Miller's published plate [on the left].)

Johann Reinhold Forster (Georg's father) also used the same name for a bird he described in the notes gathered during the same voyage. He didn't publish these notes himself, but they were finally published (more than a half century later, in 1844), by Hinrich Lichtenstein [here]. Rallus minutus JR Forster 1844 is nomenclaturally available from this work.

(With an additional potential complication, however: it has been argued that JR's published description conflicts with Georg's painting, that it might not have been based on the same bird, and might actually pertain to another species [see Walters 1988 pdf]. According to this view, the painting would show a now-extinct Tahitian endemic [Zapornia nigra / Nesophilax niger (Miller)]; but the description would rather point towards what is now known as Zapornia tabuensis (Gmelin). As Rallus minutus JR Forster was made available by the description, it would then have to be considered a synonym of the name denoting the described bird, ie., Z. tabuensis.)

(Incidentally, note that all this makes Rallus minutus Alcover et al. 2015 a primary homonym, which in turn makes it permanently invalid; but there is no reason not to call it "an available name" in the nomenclatural sense of the term.)
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Old Friday 11th December 2015, 16:32   #11
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There was also a preoccupation by Pallas (Rallus minutus 1776) which is now a synonym of Porzana pusilla. I did the same as Fred but I have informed Dr. Harald Pieper about the lapsus.

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Old Friday 11th December 2015, 17:36   #12
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There was also a preoccupation by Pallas (Rallus minutus 1776) which is now a synonym of Porzana pusilla.
Yes, this one is another somewhat puzzling case: it seems to originate in a misquotation by Pallas of his own earlier work.

In the second volume of his Zoographia Rosso-Asiatica (official publication date fixed by ICZN as 1811, albeit as few as two [!!] copies may actually have left St-Petersburg at this date), [here], Pallas indeed used "RALLUS minutus" as the valid name of the Baillon's Crake, citing as his source: "Rallus minutus, Pall. itin. III. app. p. 700. n. 30."
This is a reference to his own Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des Russischen Reichs ("itin." stands for "itinera", Latin for "travels", "Reise" in German), volume III, appendix ("Anhang" in the German original), page 700, number 30 (published 1776): [here].
But there he had actually used "RALLUS pusillus".

Of course, "pusillus" and "minutus" basically have the same meaning in Latin: "small" (which is also what "parvus" means, by the way ).
Because it is so evidently "just a mistake", this name is typically not recognized as having been proposed deliberately, in which case it lacks nomenclatural standing.
For example, you won't find it listed by Sherborn, nor in the Richmond Index.

Last edited by l_raty : Friday 11th December 2015 at 17:49.
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Old Saturday 23rd January 2016, 09:57   #13
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SiNC, 20 Jan 2016: The five bird species that Darwin couldn’t discover in Madeira and the Azores.
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Old Saturday 20th February 2016, 22:20   #14
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"Two or three thousand insular rail species (rallids) are thought to have lived in the Pacific."
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Old Saturday 20th February 2016, 23:19   #15
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"Two or three thousand insular rail species (rallids) are thought to have lived in the Pacific."
That is right, see: David W. Steadman, 1995: Prehistoric Extinctions of Pacific Island Birds: Biodiversity Meets Zooarchaeology, Science 267: 1123-1131

Although Steadman 1995 is talking about 2000, later he mentioned a lower number: David W. Steadman, 2006: Extinction & Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds: The University of Chicago Press 594 pg

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Old Sunday 21st February 2016, 00:40   #16
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I would be more conservative about this number. First, there are confirmed mistakes of declaring new subfossil bird species from bones (Ua Huka booby and Kenyon Shag). Then, many of those forms occupied very small islands where extinctions from natural causes were probably common, and often before a full species evolved. Further, many islands were within range of new immigration of their parent species, so repeated hybridization with arriving birds were probably common. A scenario of colonization and isolated evolution to full species was not the only one, and possibly not even most common.
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Old Monday 22nd February 2016, 08:15   #17
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I would be more conservative about this number. First, there are confirmed mistakes of declaring new subfossil bird species from bones (Ua Huka booby and Kenyon Shag). Then, many of those forms occupied very small islands where extinctions from natural causes were probably common, and often before a full species evolved. Further, many islands were within range of new immigration of their parent species, so repeated hybridization with arriving birds were probably common. A scenario of colonization and isolated evolution to full species was not the only one, and possibly not even most common.
The Ua Huka Booby was described as a subspecies, Papasula abbotti costelloi Steadman, Schubel & Pahlavan, 1988 and is as far as I know, still valid.

ref: David W. Steadman, Susan E. Schubel & Dominique S. Pahlavan, 1988
A New Subspecies and New Records of Papasula abbotti (Aves: Sulidae) from Archeological Sites in the Tropical Pacific
Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 101: 487-495


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Old Monday 22nd February 2016, 16:32   #18
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The Ua Huka Booby was described as a subspecies, Papasula abbotti costelloi Steadman, Schubel & Pahlavan, 1988 and is as far as I know, still valid.

ref: David W. Steadman, Susan E. Schubel & Dominique S. Pahlavan, 1988
A New Subspecies and New Records of Papasula abbotti (Aves: Sulidae) from Archeological Sites in the Tropical Pacific
Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 101: 487-495


Fred
Well it might be that Papasula costelloi was a distinct species. (see the account at Hume & Walters. Extinct Birds)
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Old Monday 22nd February 2016, 19:07   #19
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Melanie is right, pending on more material Papasula abbotti costelloi might turn out to be a full species, but that doesn't change the current status as a subspecies.

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Old Monday 22nd February 2016, 21:11   #20
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I would be more conservative about this number. First, there are confirmed mistakes of declaring new subfossil bird species from bones (Ua Huka booby and Kenyon Shag). Then, many of those forms occupied very small islands where extinctions from natural causes were probably common, and often before a full species evolved. Further, many islands were within range of new immigration of their parent species, so repeated hybridization with arriving birds were probably common. A scenario of colonization and isolated evolution to full species was not the only one, and possibly not even most common.
Steadman's methodology was pretty sound in my opinion. He included as extinct species morphotypes, most or all flightless, that were quite different from presumed ancestral species, which were volant. In many or most cases, the volant ancestor was not found anywhere nearby. For his well sampled islands in Tonga and Cook Islands, he usually had time series of specimens that showed stable avifaunas over long periods of time, even on small islands (contra MacArthur and Wilson models). If volant ancestors were regularly breeding with the island populations, then flightless would not evolve. He extrapolated number of taxa/island of particular sizes from those archipelagos to come up up with figures for the entire SW Pacific.

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Old Tuesday 23rd February 2016, 23:57   #21
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Birds and other groups simply don't show phylogenetic patterns so precise as to allow reliable prediction of number of species on unstudied islands.

Besides, there are examples contradicting parts of this reasoning.
- Scenario of constant occupancy can hide extinction and re-colonization (vide Houbara on Canaries)
- Lack of flight evolves quickly, and does not preclude interbreeding (vide hybridization of Tristan and Common Moorhens and multiple morphs of flying-flightless Branta goose on Hawaii)

However, DNA should be still present in many subfossil rail bones, both on Madeira and Pacific. I would love to work on a genomic study of those rails, like the recent ones on Canarian tits and Darwin Finches. It would be fascinating insight into ecology of colonization, developmental genes (multiple switch to flightless) and evolutionary radiation. Plus would give an unsolvable problem to proponents of monophyletic species theory, since presumably most flightless rails are phylogeneticaly nested inside panmictic populations of their flying ancestors.
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Old Tuesday 1st March 2016, 03:36   #22
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JOSEP ANTONI ALCOVER, HARALD PIEPER, FERNANDO PEREIRA, JUAN CARLOS RANDO, 2016

Rallus nanus nomen novum: a replacement name for Rallus minutus Alcover et al. 2015

Zootaxa 4085.1.8

http://biotaxa.org/Zootaxa/article/v...otaxa.4085.1.8

Abstract:


In a recent paper, we described five new species of rails from the Macaronesian islands (Alcover et al., 2015). We proposed the name of Rallus minutus to designate the São Jorge rail. One day after its publication, Fred Ruhe (via e-mail) pointed out to us that the name was preoccupied, making Rallus minutus Alcover, Pieper, Pereira & Rando 2015 a primary homonym, which in turn makes it permanently invalid.

The replacement name is Rallus nanus Alcover, Pieper, Pereira et Rando, 2016

Enjoy,

Fred
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Old Tuesday 1st March 2016, 12:23   #23
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JOSEP ANTONI ALCOVER, HARALD PIEPER, FERNANDO PEREIRA, JUAN CARLOS RANDO, 2016

Rallus nanus nomen novum: a replacement name for Rallus minutus Alcover et al. 2015

Zootaxa 4085.1.8

http://biotaxa.org/Zootaxa/article/v...otaxa.4085.1.8

Abstract:


In a recent paper, we described five new species of rails from the Macaronesian islands (Alcover et al., 2015). We proposed the name of Rallus minutus to designate the São Jorge rail. One day after its publication, Fred Ruhe (via e-mail) pointed out to us that the name was preoccupied, making Rallus minutus Alcover, Pieper, Pereira & Rando 2015 a primary homonym, which in turn makes it permanently invalid.

The replacement name is Rallus nanus Alcover, Pieper, Pereira et Rando, 2016

Enjoy,

Fred
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Old Tuesday 1st March 2016, 15:11   #24
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Fred
Thanks to all of you in this thread,

Fred
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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2016, 14:21   #25
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Dear all,

Fortuately I am not the only one who gets an acknowledgement, the birdforum is also praised in the paper mentioned in post 22!

"Acknowledgements
We want to express our acknowledgement and recognition to Fred Ruhe, who informed us on the synonymy of the previously proposed name. Dr Trevor Worthy sent us some relevant literature. We also acknowledge Dr Richard Schodde and different comments on birdforum (http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?p=3324676).

Fred
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