BirdLife and Lynx publish first ever illustrated world bird checklist
By Adrian Long, Fri, 22/08/2014 - 10:00
Lynx Edicíons and BirdLife International have published the first ever Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. The checklist classification uses new criteria and recognises 462 new species which were previously treated as ‘races’ of other forms. The new total of 4,549 non-passerines implies that previous classifications have undersold avian diversity at the species level by as much as 10%.
As a result today the world has 46 ‘new’ species of parrot, 36 ‘new’ hummingbirds and 26 ‘new’ owls.
The work uses new criteria for determining which taxa qualify as species. These criteria are intended to create a level playing field, by which all bird species can be assessed easily and consistently.
For every bird species in the world there are illustrations and distribution maps, many for the first time. Containing 357 colour plates, 8,290 bird illustrations and 4,428 distribution maps, the first of a two-part comprehensive taxonomic review focuses on non-passerine birds – such as birds of prey, seabirds, waterbirds, parrots and owls.
Many of these prove to be highly threatened, and a few, such as the exotically named ‘Blue-bearded Helmetcrest’ Oxypogon cyanolaemus, may already be extinct.
Moreover, new areas of the world have been spotlighted for conservation action by this assessment. The Brazilian state of Para, containing the last fragments of the easternmost Amazonian rainforest, becomes a greater priority for conservation. Small islands between Indonesia and the Philippines, remote and little studied, become another. And the densely populated island of Java proves to hold many more unique species than were believed before, and urgently need help.
It is a work that represents yet another high point in the careers of two of the most well-known figures in the bird world: Josep del Hoyo (Director of Lynx Edicions, Editor of Handbook of the Birds of the World; HBW, the seminal 17-volume encyclopaedia) and Nigel Collar (Leventis Fellow in Conservation Biology at BirdLife International). Coming at this enterprise from different professional perspectives that mingle knowledge, experience, science and style—del Hoyo making and gathering video footage of living birds around the planet, Collar spending months in various museums in Europe and the USA—they have produced this large but elegant book just four years after agreeing on the collaboration.
This project is really two works in one. It is a complete checklist whose taxonomy incorporates the most up-to-date information and an exhaustive methodology in a systematic and consistent way. At the same time, it contains illustrations and distribution maps for every bird species in the world, many for the first time.
This includes the original artwork from the Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) series, as well as hundreds of new illustrations, all in two compact volumes.