New taxonomy and other changes for non-passerines

17 Sep 2014 - 15:45 -- Ferran Gil

Since the publication of the first volume of the Handbook of the Birds of the World, more than 20 years ago, there have been numerous taxonomic changes and revisions.
In order to address and document these changes, the HBW team and the BirdLife International Taxonomic Group decided to pool their taxonomic expertise to prepare a carefully studied checklist. In the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, a modern, broad version of the Biological Species Concept (BSC) has been applied, with the aid of the scoring system to evaluate differences in morphology, vocalizations, ecology and geographical relationships published in Ibis by Tobias et al. (2010) . Even though taxonomy always involves an element of subjectivity, we believe that using this system has important advantages in terms of consistency, repeatability, transparency and taxonomic stability. Click here for an outline of the Tobias criteria from the Introduction to the Checklist.

For the non-passerines, this assessment has resulted in relatively few lumps (22), but a much higher number of splits (462), compared with the taxonomy present in the HBW series, as well as changes of genera and reorganization of subspecies, helping us to better understand the relationships between the taxa. Also, the macrosystematics has been overhauled, bringing to light interesting relationships between and among families, subfamilies, tribes and genera.

All of these taxonomic changes have been applied to the non-passerines in HBW Alive. Besides the reclassification itself, subscribers will also find updates to these important elements:

  1. MAPS: Newly revised BirdLife International and NatureServe distribution maps for all species, with country borders included.
  2. ILLUSTRATIONS: New and improved figures, including those to illustrate split species and to correct detected errors from the HBW series.
  3. RANGES: Detailed and updated descriptions of ranges for all species and subspecies.
  4. TAXONOMIC NOTES: Changes and other relevant issues fully explained under Taxonomy for each species.
  5. REFERENCES: The over 2000 references given in the Checklist are conveniently linked in the HBW Alive texts and quickly give users detailed information about the source.
  6. IUCN RED LIST CATEGORIES: Current official IUCN category of each species from the 2014 BirdLife International/IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  7. NAMES: Revised Latin and English species names, as well as updates in French, German and Spanish names, and in other common names in English when appropriate.
  8. SUBSPECIES GROUPS: Colour-coded subspecies groups marked to highlight distinct forms and their relationships.