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Upcoming species splits: message from eBird

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#1 Pat B.

Pat B.

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 10:13 PM

This forwarded e-mail was just posted in our local listserv:

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: "Marshall Iliff" <miliff@aol.com>
Date: Jun 20, 2012 12:17 PM
Subject: [eBird Regional Editors] Please correct your Xantus's Murrelets!
To: <ebird-regional-editors@googlegroups.com>

eBird editors,

Each year in August, eBird updates its taxonomy to match taxonomic and nomenclatural changes made by the AOU over the past year, including changes by both the North American Classification Committee (NACC) and South American Classification Committee (SACC). This update also corresponds with the Clements update, which captures many other changes around the world.

The most difficult cases for us are when species splits occur. In these cases, we often end up updating the records for our users, which is in part a service and in part a necessity in order to accurately show bird ranges worldwide. When Common Moorhen was split into New World and Old World species, this update to eBird records was time-consuming, but easy to perform -- anything in the New World became Common Gallinule and anything in the Old World became Eurasian Moorhen.

The next NACC update will be published in August and will split three species. One, Galapagos Shearwater, is already recognized as a species. The second, Gray Hawk, will be easy to convert the records, since the northern species (Gray Hawk; Buteo plagiatus) is unknown south/east of western Costa Rica, while Gray-lined Hawk (Buteo nitidus) accounts for all records south and east of there. However, the third split, Xantus's Murrelet, is going to cause headaches so we will need as much help as possible from our users.

Xantus's Murrelet ( Synthliboramphus hypoleucus) will be split into Scripps's Murrelet (S. scrippsi) and Guadalupe Murrelet (S. hypoleucus), which are both well covered in field guides and this split should come as no surprise since they have different breeding ranges, plumage and calls.

First, please check your filters and if both forms have occurred in your county, make sure both are on the list with appropriate filter limits. No need to remove Xantus's Murrelet; it will later update automatically to Scripps's/Guadalupe.

The bigger problem for us will be that the ranges overlap almost completely, although some average patterns exist (i.e., birds around the Channel Island and inshore of there, especially in Feb-Jul, are almost all Scripps's). When it comes time for an eBird update though, I don't think we'll want to make any assumptions.

That is to say:

1) anything currently entered as Xantus's Murrelet (scrippsi) will update to Scripp's Murrelet

2) anything entered as Xantus's Murrlet (hypoleucus) will update to Guadalupe Murrelet

3) anything entered as just Xantus's Murrelet will be changed to Scripps's/Guadalupe Murrelet and will therefore *not count* on life lists, state lists, and county lists if it is the only entry.

Now if the best time for eBirders to open their eBird Life List for Xantus's Murrelet. If you know what you saw, PLEASE go in now, open that list, and change the record to the subspecies option. If you have friends, encourage them to do so too. If you can post to your local listserv, please do that too. Ideally we want users to have all their records changed by early August, when our taxonomic update will take effect.

To change your records, click this link, and click on any date that does not have the subspecies shown. After changing, hit the back button on your browser, refresh the page, and then click the next date.


To see the current eBird output:

eBird map Scripps's/Guadalupe -- http://ebird.org/ebird/map/xanmur
eBird map Scripps's -- http://ebird.org/ebird/map/xanmur2
eBird map Guadalupe -- http://ebird.org/ebird/map/xanmur1

Thanks in advance for updating your records, if you know what you saw. If you are not sure which you saw, then leaving it as "Xantus's Murrelet" is the best option.


Marshall Iliff
eBird Project Leader

PS - One more split and one more lump in Central America, numerous name changes (especially nightjars), and significant list shuffling (falcons next to parrots) can be expected too.--
Marshall J. Iliff
miliff AT aol.com
West Roxbury, MA
eBird/AKN Project Leader
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Ithaca, NY

~ Pat ~ I eBird. Do you?

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