Archived 2014 discussion: Australian Masked-owl (Tyto novaehollandiae), Lesser Masked-owl (T. sororcula) and Manus Masked-owl (T. manusi) are being lumped as T. novaehollandiae: list the newly defined species as Least Concern?

The initial deadline for comments on this topic is 10 March 2014, and therefore later than for most other topics currently under discussion.

This is part of a consultation on the Red List implications of extensive changes to BirdLife’s taxonomy for non-passerines

Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International will soon publish the HBW-BirdLife Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, building off the Handbook of the Birds of the World series, and BirdLife’s annually updated taxonomic checklist.

The new Checklist will be based on the application of criteria for recognising species limits described by Tobias et al. (2010). Full details of the specific scores and the basis of these for each new taxonomic revision will be provided in the Checklist.

Following publication, an open and transparent mechanism will be established to allow people to comment on the taxonomic revisions or suggest new ones, and provide new information of relevance in order to inform regular updates. We are also actively seeking input via a discussion topic here regarding some potential taxonomic revisions that currently lack sufficient information.

The new Checklist will form the taxonomic basis of BirdLife’s assessments of the status of the world’s birds for the IUCN Red List. The taxonomic changes that will appear in volume 1 of the checklist (for non-passerines) will begin to be incorporated into the 2014 Red List update, with the remainder, and those for passerines (which will appear in volume 2 of the checklist), to be incorporated into subsequent Red List updates.

Preliminary Red List assessments have been carried out for the newly split or lumped taxa. We are now requesting comments and feedback on these preliminary assessments.

Australian Masked-owl Tyto novaehollandiae, Lesser Masked-owl T. sororcula and Manus Masked-owl T. manusi are being lumped as T. novaehollandiae, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change Tyto novaehollandiae (BirdLife species factsheet), a widespread resident in Australia and southern New Guinea, was listed as being of Least Concern, on the basis that it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria. T. manusi (BirdLife species factsheet), restricted to the island of Manus, was listed as Vulnerable under criteria C2a(i); D, because it was thought to have a very small population, likely to be in decline owing to habitat loss. T. sororcula (BirdLife species factsheet), known from Buru, the Tanimbar Islands and probably present on Seram, was listed as Data Deficient on the basis that there was insufficient information available for a robust assessment of its risk of extinction against the IUCN Red List criteria.

Following the taxonomic change, T. novaehollandiae is thought likely to qualify as being of Least Concern, on the basis that it does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the Red List criteria.

Comments on this suggested category are invited and further information would be welcomed.

References:

Tobias, J. A., Seddon, N., Spottiswoode, C. N., Pilgrim, J. D., Fishpool, L. D. C. and Collar, N. J. (2010) Quantitative criteria for species delimitation. Ibis 152: 724–746.

Related posts:

  1. Archived 2012-2013 topics: Manus Masked-owl (Tyto manusi): uplist to Endangered?
  2. Archived 2012-2013 topics: Lesser Masked-owl (Tyto sororcula): reassess as Vulnerable?
  3. Archived 2014 discussion: Javan Frogmouth (Batrachostomus javensis) and Blyth’s Frogmouth (B. affinis) are being lumped as B. javensis: list the newly defined species as Near Threatened?
  4. Archived 2014 discussion: Silvery Grebe (Podiceps occipitalis) is being split: list P. juninensis as Near Threatened or Vulnerable?
  5. Archived 2014 discussion: Variable Kingfisher (Ceyx lepidus) is being split: list C. dispar as Vulnerable and five other newly defined species as Near Threatened?
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4 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: Australian Masked-owl (Tyto novaehollandiae), Lesser Masked-owl (T. sororcula) and Manus Masked-owl (T. manusi) are being lumped as T. novaehollandiae: list the newly defined species as Least Concern?

  1. Colin T says:

    “T. sororcula (BirdLife species factsheet), known from Buru, the Tanimbar Islands and probably present on Seram”

    No update here on Seram Tyto described as a new species in 2013, with some genetic comparisons with other taxa…

    Lumping these looks like a backwards step.

  2. Can’t see how this is either justified or helpful. The Manus Masked Owl is one of the least known NG birds, DD at best, and lumping it with the Australian one is zoogeographic nonsense. If this is the Tobias criteria in action again then clearly it does it does not work for cryptic or morphologically similar species.

  3. Joe Taylor says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2014 Red List would be to treat T. novaehollandiae as Least Concern.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 14 April for this discussion, after which recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in mid-2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  4. Andy Symes says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    Following further review, there has been no change to our preliminary proposal for the 2014 Red List status of this species.

    The final categorisation will be published later in 2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessment by BirdLife and IUCN.

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