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Elegant Pitta (1 Viewer)

Jacana

Will Jones
Hungary
Yue, A.Y., Ng, E.Y.X., Eaton, J.A. et al. Species limits in the Elegant Pitta (Pitta elegans) complex from Wallacea based on bioacoustic and morphometric analysis. Avian Res 11, 42 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40657-020-00227-4

Background
The Elegant Pitta (Pitta elegans) complex displays a remarkable diversity of morphological and bioacoustic traits across five taxa currently recognized as subspecies. They differ in plumage characteristics (such as red versus black belly patches; supercilium color and extent; and white versus black throats), in lifestyle (resident versus migratory) and in vocalizations. We investigated the morphological, bioacoustic and ecological differences across all taxa after recent studies demostrated the importance of these traits in recognizing biological species limits across pittas.

Methods
Morphometric analysis was carried out by measuring tarsus, wing, tail and bill lengths of 15 specimens at the Natural History Museum, UK, and plumages were inspected across 106 unique individuals from four different repositories. Bioacoustic analysis was based on 134 range-wide sound recordings. Two types of calls, territorial calls and alarm calls, were analyzed using different sets of parameters. Principal component analysis and the Isler Criterion were applied to the measurements. Playback trials were conducted to explore the levels of response of each taxon to the call types of the other taxa.

Results
The territorial call of concinna exhibits a distinct two-element motif, while elegans, maria and virginalis utter a three-element motif in which the first two elements are given in quick succession. On the other hand, vigorsii, produces both two-element and three-element motifs with longer breaks in between elements. As further corroborated by the playback trials, the three taxa elegans, virginalis and maria form a tight vocal cluster, whereas each concinna and vigorsii are distinct. The alarm call turned out to be less diagnostic even though most taxa did roughly separate into different vocal clusters. Morphometric analysis failed to produce strong differences, but plumage distinctions among multiple taxa are pronounced.

Conclusions
We suggest splitting the Elegant Pitta into three biological species based on bioacoustic and—less so—plumage evidence: (1) Temminck’s Elegant Pitta P. elegans (including subspecies elegans, virginalis and maria), (2) Wallace’s Elegant Pitta P. concinna (monotypic), and (3) Banda Elegant Pitta P. vigorsii (monotypic).
 

Sandy73

Well-known member
Morning

If this split is agreed/ confirmed, I wonder how this and other Pitta splits have changed the Pitta family.

I’m, funnily enough, just re-reading Chris Goodie’s Jewel Hunter book about seeing all the Pitta species in a year.

Regards
 

DMW

Well-known member
Morning

If this split is agreed/ confirmed, I wonder how this and other Pitta splits have changed the Pitta family.

I’m, funnily enough, just re-reading Chris Goodie’s Jewel Hunter book about seeing all the Pitta species in a year.

Regards

Off the top of my head actual or proposed splits: Red-bellied split multiple ways differing by author, Ivory-breasted into 2, Banded into 3, Garnet into 2 or 3, Hooded probably several ways.
 

Snapdragyn

Well-known member
It's an old chestnut, but isn't it desirable to provide a link back to the historical body of literature where this can be done without being too clunky?

Just within the U.S. over the past 35ish years we went from Scrub Jay to Western Scrub-Jay to a further split. Had the 'link back' continued, we would now have California Western Scrub-Jay and Interior Western Scrub-Jay (thankfully they at least dropped the 'Western'; my own list just has California Jay & Interior Jay). But wait! The latter has more than one subspecies! Perhaps someday, with linking retained, we would then see Woodhouse's Interior Western Scrub-Jay and Texas Interior Western Scrub-Jay!

No. No we should not retain links back in common names, IMO, any more than we go to trinomials then quadrinomials and so on as a form of linking back in scientific names. The history of a species's conceptual delimitations can indeed be tangled, but that is just the nature of these beasts (& plants, & fungi, & other lifeforms).
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
It's an old chestnut, but isn't it desirable to provide a link back to the historical body of literature where this can be done without being too clunky?

That is the argument for, and the argument against is that some people thinks three parts to a name is too clunky. You can never win :-O

Niels
 

TomDerutter

Well-known member
without being too clunky
being the important part here.

If I remember correct, we had Stipplethroat Antwren, which was split in x-stipplethroat, y-stipplethroat, ...
This would be an example of a job well done.

Most of the time I'm not very fond of the compound names that are being created.
I do appreciate how hard it is to come up with decent names though...
 

DMW

Well-known member
That is the argument for, and the argument against is that some people thinks three parts to a name is too clunky. You can never win :-O

Niels

Indeed, and I'm quite happy to grumble along with everybody else, but I can't really get worked up about these names with or without "Elegant".
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
I'm fine with compound Elegant Pitta names until they are shown to not be sister to each other - at that point revision might be desirable.

Snapdragyn - I'd agree that California Western Scrub-Jay would be a mouthful but I think even the most hardheaded / unenlightened among us can see that that's a lousy name. On the flip side, I'm personally all for maintaining the group as Scrub-Jays as they're a taxonomic grouping so there's good info there, and most of them do prefer scrubbier habitats.

I also agree the Stipplethroats was an inspired bit of naming, even if there's a Stipple-throated Stipplethroat and a "plain throated" Stipple-throat. The group name is spot on. Like Fire-eyes, Bare-eyes, Reed-haunters, and even Scrub-Jays! Evocative, descriptive, and identifying.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
On the flip side, I'm personally all for maintaining the group as Scrub-Jays as they're a taxonomic grouping so there's good info there, and most of them do prefer scrubbier habitats.
The ghastly hyphen-capital horror aside, it also doesn't work as it suggests that there are two groups of jays, Scrub Jays, and Jays that aren't Scrub Jays. This leaves you with the inference that Mexican Jay (which is also an Aphelocoma species) is more closely related to Steller's Jay, than it is to any of the Scrub Jays. Which is of course not true. If you're going to have a group name Scrub Jays, it should really include everything in Aphelocoma.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
This leaves you with the inference that Mexican Jay (which is also an Aphelocoma species) is more closely related to Steller's Jay, than it is to any of the Scrub Jays. Which is of course not true. If you're going to have a group name Scrub Jays, it should really include everything in Aphelocoma.

Whether Mexican and Transvolcanic Jay should be Scrub-Jays or not is not an open and closed case to me. The Scrub-Jays are still a taxonomic unit and it's nowhere written that there must be one-to-one parity between common names and genera. Sometimes it works well. Sometimes it doesn't.

As well, I do not infer that Mexican Jay is closer to Stellar's Jay than to the Scrub-Jays. Is Pink-footed Goose more closely related to Egyptian Goose because it's not a Pink-footed White Fronted Goose? Is Shy Albatross more closely related to Wandering Albatross than to Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross due to the name? Do Wood Warbler and Moustached Warbler group with each other as neither is a Leaf Warbler or Reed Warbler or Chiffchaff?

Almost no names are perfect but that doesn't mean they aren't somewhere around acceptable/useful :) I'll take minor inaccuracies at times - ie, the warblers, jays, albatrosses, geese, etc - in names that are still meaningful and convey useful grouping information, even if not perfectly, over just plain poor names (Ring-necked Duck, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Olive Warbler).
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Regarding Temminck’s Elegant Pitta, under modern trends, I'm surprised this name is being suggested as Coenraad Jacob Temminck a white aristicrat' although he didn't own slaves afaik.
 

DMW

Well-known member
How about a compromise, and erect a new common name of Elegantpitta? Temminck's Elegantpitta seems far preferable to Temminck's Elegant Pitta, and has the great benefit of simplifying the common name to just two words, which is clearly super-better than most existing Pitta names which are hateful three-word abominations with hyphens.

Maybe this could be extended to Napedpittas and Belliedpittas?

;)
 

viator

Well-known member
Singapore
How about a compromise, and erect a new common name of Elegantpitta? Temminck's Elegantpitta seems far preferable to Temminck's Elegant Pitta, and has the great benefit of simplifying the common name to just two words, which is clearly super-better than most existing Pitta names which are hateful three-word abominations with hyphens.

Maybe this could be extended to Napedpittas and Belliedpittas?

;)

The originally proposed names are far superior to your suggestion of creating new words just by concatenating them
 

James Eaton

Trent Valley Crew
I think this thread is a perfect illustration on the impossible task of pleasing everyone when it comes choosing vernacular names!

James
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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