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Listing sub species (1 Viewer)

For those who list sub species on their year/life lists. How do you do it?

For example on my list I have specified Dark-bellied Brent Goose and Russian White-Fronted Goose which is fine as when I see their counterparts I can add them too. I come unstuck when it comes to harder to ID sub species such as Wrens. Previously each year and on my life list I have just listed as 'Wren' but now I feel if the next two wrens i see i idenitfy as ssp European Wren and then ssp Britsh Wren I would then have Wren listed three times when I have only really seen two. Same with Blue Tit, in the field its practically impossible to separate sub species so I just use the nominate name.

I have also listed Yellow Wagtail and also Blue-headed Wagtail and would plan to add other ssp when seen.

Do you find yourself in the same predicament? Would you list some ssp and not others to avoid definate over or under counting whilst being able to add to your list where possible? But that would mean going forward not looking at previously recorded species to determine ssp?

Does that make sense?

Thanks,

Ben
 

Bismarck Honeyeater

Barely known member
I think most people only count full species on their year/life lists, though certainly worth noting any distinctive (or apparent based on range) sub-species, as todays sub-species can often be tomorrows species.
 

jurek

Well-known member
Many people list distinctive subspecies like Siberian Chiffchaff or White-headed Long-tailed Tit.

I hope authorities like BOURC and ABA make a list of recognizable species and subspecies (not some clinal forms, but distinctive subspecies). This could be adopted as a twitching list, and takes part of the pressure off the science to split more and more dubious species.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I keep my list in excel, which allows me to have separate sheets.

My main sheet has the list of species, following IOC, alongside taxonomy, location(s) where seen, date, etc

I then have a separate sheet called "Holding Sheet for Splits". This is where I put down every unique subspecies or subspecies group, as indicated by Cornell subspecies groups or as shown in field guides or suggested by papers I have come across. This only includes potential splits. I don't list monotypic forms that I hae seen in here (they are only in the main list), nor do I necessarily list every subspecies. A lot of subspecies are of dubious utility (clines, not field-identifiable), so I don't list EVERY subspecies being seen, just noticeable ones. And if I have seen only one population and its from the name-carrying population, I usually don't include it in the sheet, at least until I see another population. It's nice because if something is split, like the recent Lillian's Meadowlark, I can just copy and paste that form back into the main list with minor modification.

For completeness sake, I also have separate sheets for heard only and for noncountable introduced populations and escapee birds.

My ABA list also has two sheets, one which is a complete species level list of all ABA bird species, which I check off as needed, and a list that includes both species and unique forms, the latter a modified version of the Clements subspecies group list.
 
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Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Many people list distinctive subspecies like Siberian Chiffchaff or White-headed Long-tailed Tit.

I hope authorities like BOURC and ABA make a list of recognizable species and subspecies (not some clinal forms, but distinctive subspecies). This could be adopted as a twitching list, and takes part of the pressure off the science to split more and more dubious species.
ABA (American Birding Association) would probably need to switch to Ebird, which has subspecies groups that sort of represent this (Which I would actually support if the WGAC starts resulting in further mismatch between the lists). AOS (American Ornithological Society) really doesn't pay much attention to subspecies, so ABA would probably need to create a new committee to do this.
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
For those who list sub species on their year/life lists. How do you do it?
I list species with an x and additional (identifiable) subspecies with a $-sign in excel, so I do not count them double.
(If I cannot identify the subspecies I will usually just take the most likely one).
 

jurek

Well-known member
I use an excel sheet and have a separate field where I list them. E.g. also ssp. X Y.

Actually, biodiversity is a science seriously compromised by Microsoft. Traditionally, lists of species were done in Microsoft Excel, which can only give a field or no field. This led to a drive to split subspecies into species, but also belittling evolutionary unique species compared to weakly differentiated species from big genera e.g. white-eyes or Phylloscopus warblers.
 

Tiraya

San Diego CA
United Kingdom
Suspect it gets extremely crazy in the US, where we have a ton of song sparrow, dark-eyed junco and other songbird species that can sometimes only be distinguished by their presence on breeding territory.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I use an excel sheet and have a separate field where I list them. E.g. also ssp. X Y.

Actually, biodiversity is a science seriously compromised by Microsoft. Traditionally, lists of species were done in Microsoft Excel, which can only give a field or no field. This led to a drive to split subspecies into species, but also belittling evolutionary unique species compared to weakly differentiated species from big genera e.g. white-eyes or Phylloscopus warblers.
Excel encourages taxonomic splitting. That might be one of the silliest things I have yet heard on this site.
 

jurek

Well-known member
Excel encourages taxonomic splitting. That might be one of the silliest things I have yet heard on this site.
Not, taxonomists who had no skills to use anything more complex than excel.
Suspect it gets extremely crazy in the US, where we have a ton of song sparrow, dark-eyed junco and other songbird species that can sometimes only be distinguished by their presence on breeding territory.

That is why we talk only about clearly different subspecies.

Although, to be fair, there is a number of bird species which, too, are distinguished mostly by range.
 

Tiraya

San Diego CA
United Kingdom
That is why we talk only about clearly different subspecies.

Although, to be fair, there is a number of bird species which, too, are distinguished mostly by range.

In terms of "clearly different" subspecies, I think this line can be hard to draw, and becomes possibly ambiguous and arbitrary at best. I may be wrong! Everyone is open to having their own list and listed taxa, of course, but for me to have any investment, some overall consistency would be a nice stability.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Suspect it gets extremely crazy in the US, where we have a ton of song sparrow, dark-eyed junco and other songbird species that can sometimes only be distinguished by their presence on breeding territory.
Unfortunately there isn't a whole lot of interest in subspecies, so a lot of named subspecies are probably not diagnosable or are of dubious utility. Not many people are really interested in critical appraisal of their morphology as the focus of research. I don't think this is a USA only problem either: I count 14 subspecies of Great Tit on BOW...how many of those are identifiable by morphology/call?)

That said the various junco subspecies groups are easy to identify, and for that matter Song Sparrows can be sorted into different groups which have some unique features: A song sparrow from out east is pretty different from one from Arizona or the Pacific Northwest.
 

Tiraya

San Diego CA
United Kingdom
From my interpretation of the original concept here, subspecies "groups" wouldn't be sufficient, akin at best to a "warbler sp." or "tanager sp." on the typical life list. But that is worth a point of discussion, certainly.
 

jurek

Well-known member
Sibley bird guide makes it very sensibly. It presents subspecies of many birds in groups like "North-Western" "Eastern" but does not give names explicitly because subspecies are not well researched, hybridize, and within groups some are not distinguishable in the field.

I especially wanted to see far northern race of Great Horned Owl, which has so pale plumage that is starts to resemble Snowy Owl. I seen two GHOs in arctic Canada, but they did not make such a striking impression...
 

Tiraya

San Diego CA
United Kingdom
Yeah I remember learning the junco names as single subspecies, only realizing more recently it was actually a group of subspecies!

Didn't know about the "Subantarctic" great horned owl until now, very interesting. Cool looking bird!
 
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Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
From my interpretation of the original concept here, subspecies "groups" wouldn't be sufficient, akin at best to a "warbler sp." or "tanager sp." on the typical life list. But that is worth a point of discussion, certainly.
The thing is a lot of the "subspecies groups" are really just plain subspecies. Because again, folks haven't taken the time to properly review and synonymize them.

The biggest issue with how Clements and Birds of the World deal with subspecies groups is that it's inconsistently applied, as there are some groups worth recognizing that are not (some of the ptarmigan forms) and some groups that probably are not diagnostic (Some of the Sandhill Crane groups).
 

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