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Anybody bored with near-identical B-species? (1 Viewer)

As someone for whom Caspian Gull remains elusive....

Ah now, Caspian is pretty distinctive, especially since I saw one recently...

Paul

Well if I had an adult sitting at a reasonable distance I don't think I'd have an issue with it, but when you are trying to pick one out of a massive flock of 150+ herring gulls at a distance... a little trickier :p
 
Well, many ears ago I was twitching an olive-backed pipit in Denmark. Before going, I had the same feeling about "is this worth it, it looks so similar to other pipits". However, seeing a behavior very different from other pipits that I knew made me a convert, I want to see even the cryptic splits.

Niels
 
As someone for whom Caspian Gull remains elusive....

Ah now, Caspian is pretty distinctive, especially since I saw one recently...

Paul

Caspian Gulls are easily recognised by their leg patterns. 8-P

Not sure of any other way, though :-O
 

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There is some variability, but birders are in agreement what is near identical.

I've gotta say that I find this to be total nonsense. Birders are motivated and excited by many things; visual distinctiveness, rarity, song, behavior, or conservation concern. To say that there is some 'agreement' as to which species are sufficiently distinctive while implying that others are somehow superfluous seems incorrect to me. You're certainly entitled to your own opinion on what makes birds and birding fun for you, but let's not pretend there is some sort of consensus. I for one will happily fly a flag for the group that enjoys nuances that separate similar species.

I would love to see some examples of un-credentialed (whatever that means) folks getting taxonomic papers published which then lead to splits. Never seen it myself and I spend quite a bit of time mired in the bird systematics literature.

Cheers,
Andy
 
Well if I had an adult sitting at a reasonable distance I don't think I'd have an issue with it, but when you are trying to pick one out of a massive flock of 150+ herring gulls at a distance... a little trickier :p

Armchair caspian from 10m. Gull watching into the teeth of an arctic wind whistling at you over desolate beach is all very laudable but it gives me the horrors.
Paul
 
To say that there is some 'agreement' as to which species are sufficiently distinctive

If it was not true, bird guidebooks would be in a big disagreement with each other over identification characters. :D

I think you are confusing subtly different things.

Birds which are similar but are separate species because they were found to be highly different in voice, behavior, genetics etc.

Birds which are similar and trivial or no new information came about the differences in voice, behavior, genetics etc, which were raised to species because standards of what is a species became more permissive.

And birders' pleasure in new experiences, not more of the same experiences. The last point is what I am talking about.

I am completely happy to accept that different malaria mosquitoes are different species and it is crucial to world's health, although they look identical for me.
 
Birds which are similar and trivial or no new information came about the differences in voice, behavior, genetics etc, which were raised to species because standards of what is a species became more permissive.

What would be examples of birds being split because of "more permissive standards"? Is the Moltoni's that you mentionned above such an example?
 
Well, if you don't like the ones which are already described, if this article I just came across has any merit you won't be happy...

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/sc...wice-more-than-previously-thought/336277.html

The key sentence is that article is this:

[The Biological Species Concept] is really an outdated point of view, and it is a concept that is hardly used in taxonomy outside of birds

Which is a sentiment that I think many would disagree with. I don't have much current knowledge of the current thinking in taxonomy of birds or otherwise, but has the BSC really been abandoned for the most part outside of ornithology?
 
There is an interesting idea here in how birders will treat species that are truly impossible to identify in the field. I don't know of any cases like this off the top of my head (Swinhoe's and Pin-tailed Snipe off the breeding grounds come close?, and juvenile Plegadis ibis in North America are maybe not reliably distinguished. I think some recent tubenose splits could fall into this category)
But there are serious proposals to split Painted Bunting, which may be totally indistinguishable except by breeding range or genetics.
I think there is a real possibility, if these kinds of splits become more common, of birders moving away from listing species and instead focusing more on distinct field-identifiable populations, which could include some distinctive subspecies (e.g. Palm Warblers)
 
. . .I think there is a real possibility, if these kinds of splits become more common, of birders moving away from listing species and instead focusing more on distinct field-identifiable populations, which could include some distinctive subspecies (e.g. Palm Warblers)

Indeed, a real and welcome possibility and pretty much what I do now. . .. And I don't see a downside.
 
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The key sentence is that article is this:

[The Biological Species Concept] is really an outdated point of view, and it is a concept that is hardly used in taxonomy outside of birds

Which is a sentiment that I think many would disagree with. I don't have much current knowledge of the current thinking in taxonomy of birds or otherwise, but has the BSC really been abandoned for the most part outside of ornithology?
The thing is, these people never come up with a better, more scientifically accurate alternative. Something with a concise definition that can be put in one word, like "species" or "race". It's not enough to say "it's complicated". Anyone with a brain knows that already.
It's easy to criticize concepts such as species, you don't even really need any sort of education for that, but it's lazy when scientists or scholars contest the validity of such a concept without offering a real solution.
 
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Anyone with a brain knows that already.
It's easy to criticize concepts such as species, you don't even really need any sort of education for that, but it's lazy when scientists or scholars contest the validity of such a concept without offering a real solution.

So what's the PSC then if not an alternative?

Bottom line, we'll never get an agreed, fixed definition of what a species is, those with a vested interest in raising the number of 'species will apply the PSC.

I suggest people do what I do, select a list, in my case the IOC, stick with that and ask no questions, just don't bother with any other list, far simpler this way!


A
 
So what's the PSC then if not an alternative?

Bottom line, we'll never get an agreed, fixed definition of what a species is, those with a vested interest in raising the number of 'species will apply the PSC.

I suggest people do what I do, select a list, in my case the IOC, stick with that and ask no questions, just don't bother with any other list, far simpler this way!
A

I kind of take the opposite approach - if something is on any half-reputable list I count it for my own sake, but keep aware of what contentious things are on there for the occasions where direct 1-1 comparison might be needed.

My Eastern and Western Cattle Egrets for instance may not fly (no pun intended) with a bunch of lists, but at best I have two species and at worst two subspecies, and as I don't bird competitively it ultimately doesn't particularly matter.

The only real problem I've run into with this approach is when lists change their minds about species and revoke them back to subspecies, but then that's going to be an issue with going with a single list anyway. Glad I never got around to counting Black-eared Kite for instance.
 
So what's the PSC then if not an alternative?

Bottom line, we'll never get an agreed, fixed definition of what a species is, those with a vested interest in raising the number of 'species will apply the PSC.

A

Can folks please stop insinuating that scientists are approaching this from a conspiratorial agenda-driven angle with absolutely no evidence? It's insulting and contributes to a terrible and unfounded negative view towards science that is generally eroding the value of objectivity and fact in this world. Please be better than that.

If there is any "agenda" it is identifying evolutionarily distinct units for the sake of conservation.

Andy
 
Can folks please stop insinuating that scientists are approaching this from a conspiratorial agenda-driven angle with absolutely no evidence? It's insulting and contributes to a terrible and unfounded negative view towards science that is generally eroding the value of objectivity and fact in this world. Please be better than that.

If there is any "agenda" it is identifying evolutionarily distinct units for the sake of conservation.

Andy

Who mentioned scientists?
 
Can folks please stop insinuating that scientists are approaching this from a conspiratorial agenda-driven angle with absolutely no evidence? It's insulting and contributes to a terrible and unfounded negative view towards science that is generally eroding the value of objectivity and fact in this world. Please be better than that.

If there is any "agenda" it is identifying evolutionarily distinct units for the sake of conservation.

Andy

Who mentioned scientists or conspiracies?
 
The key sentence is that article is this:



Which is a sentiment that I think many would disagree with. I don't have much current knowledge of the current thinking in taxonomy of birds or otherwise, but has the BSC really been abandoned for the most part outside of ornithology?

As someone who follows Herpetology, I can certainly vouch that the BSC has been almost completely abandoned in reptiles and amphibians. My guess is that the same follows for fish and invertebrates. Mammals I think BSC is still heavily used, but even that depends varies by specific group.

BSC is currently by far the most accepted and widespread species concept in Ornithology, but I would say that Ornithology is fairly unique. Birds in general are just really really easy to study using the concept, as most species use species recognition methods that are easy to observe and amendable to human observation (visual displays and sound). They also are generally pretty good at dispersal, which means that populations tend to be more fluid and thus there is more secondary contact and "need" to develop reproductive isolating mechanisms.

Reproductive isolation is almost impossible to directly study in most other groups, either because it's not really very feasible to to observe taxa in the wild, because some senses such as smell that might be important in species discrimination for some groups are hard to identify.
 
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