The updating process for the “new species” from the HBW-BL Illustrated Checklist is completed!
A little over a year ago, in August, 2014, the HBW Alive Editorial team
faced an important challenge: BirdLife International and Lynx Edicions
had just published together HBW and Birdlife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World Volume 1: Non-passerines (del Hoyo & Collar 2014), with a large number of taxonomical modifications which had to be incorporated into HBW Alive. In the more than twenty years it took to complete the monumental Handbook of the Birds of the World
(1992-2013), there had been a scientific revolution in terms of our
conception of the evolution of birds, as much in the understanding of
the precise relationships between orders and families as in the
delimitation of the advances in the process of speciation among sister
taxa. Suffice it to say that the HBW-BL Illustrated Checklist includes 2,126 bibliographical references, most from recent years, so the necessary changes were very numerous.
For HBW Alive, the task of adapting the contents to the new
taxonomic sequence was, thanks to information technology, simple and
rapid. However the changes arising from the recognition or not of new
species was to prove a far greater task. 462 new species appeared almost
overnight, the result of splits, whose internet texts only contained
the fields corresponding to taxonomy and distribution, with no
information about biology, ecology or conservation status, and which
lacked links to photos, videos or sound recordings. Moreover the texts
of the “old” species, which before included those now recognized as
different, had to be modified accordingly. By the same token particular
attention had to be paid to the 30 cases in which the HBW-BL Illustrated Checklist suggested lumping forms that were previously considered distinct species.
When modifying the texts of the two or more species resulting from a
particular split, there were sometimes considerable difficulties
attributing to certain taxa the information in the original text
relating to details like, for example, diet, nest construction or the
migration calendar, which effectively obliged the editors to carry out
new investigative work. Even the assignment of the bibliography to one
or another species sometimes required a considerable amount of work.
Given the relatively small size of the editorial team – it is to be
hoped that an increase in subscriptions will permit us to increase this
in the future – we had no choice but to dedicate all our efforts to the
new task, leaving aside for the moment, with some exceptions, the
routine updating of the species accounts of the rest of the species.
We are pleased finally to be able to announce to our readers that the
process has been successfully completed and that all the species in HBW Alive
now have their own complete, individual texts. We are very grateful to
the various editors, and especially to Guy Kirwan, for their efforts,
which have permitted this to be achieved within a reasonable time frame.
Within a year, the publication of the HBW-BL Illustrated Checklist
volume devoted to the passerines will raise another mountain of work
before us. By then, though, we hope to have advanced substantially the
updating of the texts of many other species.
Eduardo de Juana
Editor, HBW Alive