Thursday, February 09, 2006

Berlepsch’s Six-wired Bird-of-Paradise: Species or Subspecies?

Not surprisingly, the recent discovery of hundreds of new species in remote New Guinea resulted in widespread press coverage. Most of these articles focused on the re-discovery of the so-called Belepsch’s Six-wired Bird-of-Paradise. My curiosity aroused, I began my search to see what was known about this species. A google search failed to return any hits except for recent news accounts. A search of Worldbirdinfo.net did not return any hits. Searches of Monroe and Sibley’s (1993) A world checklist of birds and Clements’ (2000) Birds of the world: a checklist also failed to reveal any such bird. This mystery was finally solved when I discovered it listed as a subspecies of Parotia carolae, Carola’s Parotia (a bird-of-paradise) in Clements’ list. Clements’ authority for the nomenclature and taxonomy for the birds-of-paradise (family Paradisaeidae) was Clifford Frith and Bruce Beehler’s (1998) The birds of paradise. Beehler, by coincidence, was the leader of the expedition that rediscovered this "species."

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