BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee Announces Important Taxonomic Decisions


The Taxonomic Sub-committee (TSC) of the British Ornithologists' Union Records Committee (BOURC) has recently completed work on a series of taxonomic recommendations relating to the British List.

A full report of the current recommendations, with supporting information, will appear in the January 2004 issue of Ibis (Ibis 146: 153-156).

Amongst the recommendations are the following:

Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus, Bewick's Swan Cygnus c. bewickii and Whistling Swan C. c. columbianus should continue to be treated as conspecific.

Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka to be treated as two species, Pied Wheatear O. pleschanka and Cyprus Wheatear O. cypriaca. Only O. pleschanka has been recorded in Britain.

Desert Warbler Sylvia nana to be treated as two species, Asian Desert Warbler S. nana and African Desert Warbler S. deserti. All British records have been assigned to S. nana.

Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva to be treated as two species, Red-breasted Flycatcher F. parva and Taiga Flycatcher F. albicilla. Two recent records of Taiga Flycatcher are under consideration.

Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca. Atlas Flycatcher to be treated as a full species Ficedula speculigera. There are no claims of this species in Britain, but the recommendation clarifies the world distribution of F. hypoleuca.

The full list of recommendations in the Taxonomic Sub-committee's forthcoming report have been accepted by the BOURC, and will be implemented when formally published in the January 2004 issue of the BOU's journal, Ibis (Ibis 146: 153-156).

The BOURC-TSC has also been working with the Association of European Rarities Committees Taxonomic Advisory Committee (AERC-TAC), which has recently posted taxonomic information on the AERC website http://aerc.be/aerc_tac.htm.

The AERC-TAC document includes a series of taxonomic recommendations for European birds. As the document clearly states, this is not a final version. Many items and opinions expressed in the document are still being discussed or have not yet been agreed among the European taxonomic committees.

Although the BOURC-TSC is listed as a contributor of the document, the contents of the current version are not supported by the BOU, nor are they supported by all the other European taxonomic committees, e.g. the Commissie Systematiek Nederlandse Avifauna (CSNA) are issuing their own statement to this effect. The AERC-TAC recommendations do not affect the British List. The report of BOURC-TSC, which is published in Ibis, remains the official publication of the BOU.


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