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  • 1. Collinson, Martin
    et al.
    Parkin, David T.
    Knox, Alan G,
    Sangster, George
    Helbig, Andreas J.
    Species limits within the genus Melanitta, the scoters2006In: British Birds, ISSN 0007-0335, Vol. 99, p. 183-201Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [en]

    As part of its reassessment of the taxonomy of birds on the British List, the BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee has assessed all six recognised taxa of scoters Melanitta against its previously published Species Guidelines (Helbig et al. 2002).We consider that, on the basis of evidence currently available, at least five species should be recognised: Common Scoter M. nigra, Black Scoter M. americana,Velvet Scoter M. fusca,White-winged Scoter M. deglandi and Surf Scoter M. perspicillata.The taxonomic status of the Asian subspecies of White-winged Scoter (stejnegeri) is uncertain, owing to insufficient information on several aspects of its morphology and behaviour. Provisionally, we suggest that it is best treated as conspecific with M. deglandi.

  • 2. Collinson, Martin
    et al.
    Parkin, David T.
    Knox, Alan G,
    Sangster, George
    Svensson, Lars
    Species boundaries in the Herring Gull complex2008In: British Birds, ISSN 0007-0335, Vol. 101, p. 340-363Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [en]

    The BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee (TSC) recently published recommendations for the taxonomy of the Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull complex (Sangster et al. 2007). Six species were recognised: Herring Gull Larus argentatus, Lesser Black-backed Gull L. fuscus, Caspian Gull L. cachinnans,Yellow-legged Gull L. michahellis, Armenian Gull L. armenicus and American Herring Gull L. smithsonianus.This paper reviews the evidence underlying these decisions and highlights the remaining areas of uncertainty where taxonomic revision may be required in future.

  • 3. Helbig, Andreas J.
    et al.
    Knox, Alan G.
    Parkin, David T.
    Sangster, George
    Stevenshof 17, 2312 G Leiden, the Netherlands.
    Collinson, Martin
    Guidelines for assigning species rank2002In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 144, no 3, p. 518-525Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Developments in several fields of study (including bio-acoustics and the analysis of DNA) together with reappraisals of the nature of species have impacted significantly on avian taxonomy. The BOU’s Taxonomic Subcommittee has developed guidelines for the applicationof species limits to sympatric, parapatric, allopatric and hybridizing taxa. These are published here to assist researchers understand the rationale behind the committee’s taxonomic recommendations relating to the British List.

  • 4. Irestedt, Martin
    et al.
    Fabre, Pierre-Henri
    Batalha-Filho, Henrique
    Jønsson, Knud A.
    Roselaar, Cees S
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    Ericson, Per GP
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Swedish Museum of Natural History.
    The spatio-temporal colonization and diversification across the Indo-Pacific by a ‘great speciator’ (Aves, Erythropitta erythrogaster)2013In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8452, E-ISSN 1471-2954, Vol. 280, no 1759, p. 20130309-Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The Indo-Pacific region has arguably been the most important area for the formulation of theories about biogeography and speciation, but modern studies of the tempo, mode and magnitude of diversification across this region are scarce. We study the biogeographical history and characterize levels of diversification in the wide-ranging passerine bird Erythropitta erythrogaster using molecular, phylogeographic and population genetics methods, as well as morphometric and plumage analyses. Our results suggest that E. erythrogaster colonized the Indo-Pacific during the Pleistocene in an eastward direction following a stepping stone pathway, and that sea level fluctuations during the Pleistocene only locally may have promoted gene flow. A molecular species delimitation test suggests that several allopatric island populations of E. erythrogaster may be regarded as species. Most of these putative new species are further characterized by diagnostic differences in plumage. Our study reconfirms the E. erythrogaster complex as a ‘great speciator’: it represents a complex of up to 17 allopatrically distributed, reciprocally monophyletic and/or morphologically diagnosable species that originated during the Pleistocene. Our results support the view that observed latitudinal gradients of genetic divergence among avian sister-species may have been affected by incomplete knowledge of taxonomic limits in tropical bird species.

  • 5. Irestedt, Martin
    et al.
    Gelang, Magnus
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    Olsson, Urban
    Ericson, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    Alström, Per
    Neumann’s Warbler Hemitesia neumanni (Sylvioidea): the sole African member of a Palaeotropic Miocene avifauna2011In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 153, no 1, p. 78-86Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We present molecular evidence that Neumann’s Warbler Hemitesia neumanni is deeply nested within the Cettiidae. The species’ distribution in the Albertine Rift of East Africa is intriguing, as the family Cettiidae is principally an Asian radiation. This disjunct distribution could be a result of colonization of Africa by long-distance dispersal, or the Cettiidae may at some point in the past have had a much larger geographical distribution that also covered parts of Africa.

  • 6. Jønsson, Knud Andreas
    et al.
    Delhey, Kaspar
    Sangster, George
    Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden.
    Ericson, Per G. P.
    Irestedt, Martin
    The evolution of mimicry of friarbirds by orioles (Aves: Passeriformes) in Australo-Pacific archipelagos2016In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8452, E-ISSN 1471-2954, Vol. 283, no 1833, article id 20160409Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Observations by Alfred Wallace and Jared Diamond of plumage similarities between co-occurring orioles (Oriolus) and friarbirds (Philemon) in the Malay archipelago led them to conclude that the former represent visual mimics of the latter. Here, we use molecular phylogenies and plumage reflectance measurements to test several key predictions of the mimicry hypothesis. We show that friarbirds originated before brown orioles, that the two groups did not co-speciate, although there is one plausible instance of co-speciation among species on the neighbouring Moluccan islands of Buru and Seram. Furthermore, we show that greater size disparity between model and mimic and a longer history of co-occurrence have resulted in a stronger plumage similarity (mimicry). This suggests that resemblance between orioles and friarbirds represents mimicry and that colonization of islands by brown orioles has been facilitated by their ability to mimic the aggressive friarbirds.

  • 7. Knox, Alan G.
    et al.
    Collinson, J. Martin
    Parkin, David T.
    Sangster, George
    Svensson, Lars
    Taxonomic recommendations for British birds, Fifth Report2008In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 150, p. 833-835Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 8. Luksenburg, Jolanda A.
    et al.
    Henriquez, Angiolina
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology. Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden.
    Molecular and morphological evidence for the subspecific identity of Bryde’s whales in the southern Caribbean2015In: Marine mammal science, ISSN 0824-0469, E-ISSN 1748-7692, Vol. 31, no 4, p. 1568-1579Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 9.
    Luksenburg, Jolanda
    et al.
    George Mason University.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    New seabird records from Aruba, southern Caribbean, including three pelagic species new for the island2013In: Marine Ornithology, ISSN 1018-3337, E-ISSN 2074-1235, Vol. 42, no 2, p. 183-186Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 10. Olsson, Urban
    et al.
    Irestedt, Martin
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    Ericson, Per G. P.
    Alström, Per
    Systematic revision of the avian family Cisticolidae based on a multi-locus phylogeny of all genera2013In: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, ISSN 1055-7903, E-ISSN 1095-9513, Vol. 66, no 3, p. 790-799Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The avian taxon Cisticolidae includes c. 110 species which are distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical parts of the Old World. We estimated the phylogeny of 47 species representing all genera assumed to be part of Cisticolidae based on sequence data from two mitochondrial and two nuclear markers, in total 3495 bp. Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood analyses resulted in a generally well-supported phylogeny which clarified the position of several previously poorly known taxa. The placement of Drymocichla, Malcorus, Micromacronus, Oreophilais, Phragmacia, Phyllolais, Poliolais and Urorhipis in Cisticolidae is corroborated, whereas Rhopophilus and Scotocerca are removed from Cisticolidae. Urorhipis and Heliolais are placed in the genus Prinia whereas Prinia burnesii is shown to be part of Timaliidae, and is placed in the genus Laticilla. Although not recovered by all single loci independently, four major clades were identified within Cisticolidae, and one of these is here described as a new taxon (Neomixinae).

  • 11. Parkin, David T
    et al.
    Collinson, J Martin
    Helbig, Andreas J
    Knox, Alan G
    Sangster, George
    Svensson, Lars
    Species limits in Acrocephalus and Hippolais warblers from the Western Palearctic2004In: British Birds, ISSN 0007-0335, Vol. 97, no 6, p. 276-299Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [en]

    The taxonomic affiliations within the genera [Acrocephalus] and [Hippolais] have long been a matter for debate. Recent molecular and behavioural studies have provided a wealth of new data which can be used to analyse the evolutionary relationships of the Palearctic taxa in these genera. In this paper, we make a series of recommendations for changes in species limits, highlight some problem areas and discuss situations where more research is needed.

  • 12. Parkin, David T.
    et al.
    Collinson, Martin
    Helbig, Andreas J.
    Knox, Alan G.
    Sangster, George
    The development of guidelines to assist in defining species limits2006In: Acta Zoologica Sinica, ISSN 0001-7302, Vol. 52, p. 435-438Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This review describes the reasoning behind the “Guidelines for assessing species rank” developed by the Taxonomic Subcommittee of the British Ornithologists’ Union, and recently published in the Ibis. It sets out criteria for delimiting species taxa based primarily on the Evolutionary Species Concept and General Lineage Concept of Species (Mayden, 1997; de Queiroz, 1999), and secondarily on the Biological Species Concept, Recognition Species Concept and Phylogenetic Species Concept. Procedures and scenarios are canvassed for defining diagnosability and for determining species limits in situations of sympatry, parapatry, allopatry and hybrid zones. The role and significance of DNA sequence data is also addressed.

  • 13. Robb, Magnus S.
    et al.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology. Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden.
    Aliabadian, Mansour
    van den Berg, Arnoud B.
    Constantine, Mark
    Irestedt, Martin
    Khani, Ali
    Musavi, Seyed Babak
    Nunes, João M. G.
    Willson, Maïa Sarrouf
    Walsh, Alyn J.
    The rediscovery of Strix butleri (Hume, 1878) in Oman and Iran, with molecular resolution of the identity of Strix omanensis Robb, van den Berg and Constantine, 20132016In: Avian Research, ISSN 0005-2175, E-ISSN 2053-7166, Vol. 7, article id UNSP 7Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: Most species of owls (Strigidae) represent cryptic species and their taxonomic study is in flux. In recent years, two new species of owls of the genus Strix have been described from the Arabian peninsula by different research teams. It has been suggested that one of these species, S. omanensis, is not a valid species but taxonomic comparisons have been hampered by the lack of specimens of S. omanensis, and the poor state of the holotype of S. butleri. Methods: Here we use new DNA sequence data to clarify the taxonomy and nomenclature of the S. butleri complex. We also report the capture of a single S. butleri in Mashhad, Iran. Results: A cytochrome b sequence of S. omanensis was found to be identical to that of the holotype of S. butleri, indicating that the name S. omanensis is best regarded as a junior synonym of S. butleri. The identity of the S. butleri captured in Mashhad, Iran, was confirmed using DNA sequence data. This represents a major (1,400 km) range extension of this species. Conclusions: The population discovered in Oman in 2013 and originally named ‘S. omanensis’ actually represents the rediscovery of S. butleri, which was known from a single specimen and had not been recorded since 1878. The range of S. butleri extends into northeast Iran. Our study augments the body of evidence for the recognition of S. butleri and S. hadorami as separate species and highlights the importance of using multiple evidence to study cryptic owl species.

  • 14. Sangster, George
    A name for the clade formed by owlet-nightjars, swifts and hummingbirds (Aves)2005In: Zootaxa, ISSN 1175-5326, E-ISSN 1175-5334, Vol. 799, p. 1-6Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Recent phylogenetic studies of non-passerine birds provide congruent support for a clade formed by owlet-nightjars (Aegothelidae) and swifts and hummingbirds (Apodiformes). This clade is here named Daedalornithes (new clade name) based on the principles of phylogenetic taxonomy.

  • 15.
    Sangster, George
    Leiden, The Netherlands.
    A name for the flamingo–grebe clade2005In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 147, no 3, p. 612-615Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 16. Sangster, George
    A new genus for the waterthrushes (Parulidae)2008In: Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club, ISSN 0007-1595, Vol. 128, p. 212-215Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 17. Sangster, George
    A revision of Vermivora (Parulidae), with the description of a new genus2008In: Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club, ISSN 0007-1595, Vol. 128, p. 207-211Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 18.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    Acoustic differences between the scoters Melanitta nigra nigra and M. n. americana2009In: Wilson journal of ornithology, ISSN 1559-4491, Vol. 121, p. 696-702Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Scoter vocalizations may have a role in pair formation and pair bonding. I compared the courtship calls of male Black Scoters (Melanitta nigra nigra and M. n. americana) using published and archived recordings. Courtship calls of the two subspecies differed diagnosably in duration. In contrast, recordings from different localities within the ranges of each taxon showed no diagnosable differentiation. This finding represents the first indication these taxa differ in characters other than bill morphology and supports recent proposals to treat M. it. americana as a distinct species (M. americana). Vocal displays, in contrast to courtship displays, of anatids have not been used for assessment of species limits in Anatidae. My results indicate vocalizations are a potentially useful additional character in species-level taxonomy of anatids.

  • 19. Sangster, George
    Andreas J Helbig (1957-2005)2005In: Dutch Birding, ISSN 0167-2878, Vol. 27, p. 443-444Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 20.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    Controversies over taxonomic and nomenclatural instability: an empirical approach2011Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Taxonomic names serve two important functions: they reflect hypotheses about the existence of taxa, and they serve as the primary means to communicate about biodiversity. The dual purpose of names is a source of conflict and misunderstanding among taxonomists and end-users of taxonomy. In recent years, proposals have been made to curb nomenclatural change both at the species level and at higher taxonomic levels. However, the causes and extent of taxonomic and nomenclatural instability are poorly known. In this thesis, I focus on two major controversies in systematics. The first of these deals with the question whether taxonomic changes at the species level are real or merely caused by a shift of the species concept. The second deals with the question whether the current rank-based (Linnaean) nomenclatural system should be replaced by an alternative nomenclatural system. Both debates have been dominated by conflicting theoretical arguments in high-profile journals, but with very little input from quantitative empirical studies.

                In manuscript 1, I address the highly influential claim that recent increases of the number of vertebrate species are not real but are due to reinterpretations of previous data under a Phylogenetic Species Concept (PSC). To this end, I examine 747 proposals to change the taxonomic rank of birds in the period 1950–2007. The trend to recognize more species of birds started at least two decades before the introduction of PSCs. Most (85%) newly recognized species were supported by new taxonomic data. Proposals to recognize more species resulted from application of all six major taxonomic criteria. Many newly recognized species (63%) were not based exclusively on PSC-based criteria (diagnosability, monophyly and exclusive coalescence of gene trees). Therefore, this study finds no empirical support for the idea that the increase in species is primarily epistemological rather than data-driven. This study shows that previous claims about the causes and effects of taxonomic inflation lack empirical support. I argue that a more appropriate term for the increase in species is ‘taxonomic progress’.

                In manuscript 2, I present a quantitative analysis of nomenclatural instability in birds. The dataset included 826 name-taxon associations in seven major classifications of birds published between 1934 and 2007. High levels of synonymy (38% of taxa, affecting 68% of names) and homonymy (18% of names, affecting 46% of taxa) were found. On average, supra-generic taxa accepted in all seven classifications are known by 3.3 different names, and very few (2%) of these taxa are known by a single name. A significant inverse relationship between taxonomic stability and nomenclatural stability was found. Furthermore, each new classification introduced additional names for previously recognized taxa and re-applied previous names to other taxa. Overall, 94% of synonyms and 69% of homonyms were caused by differences in opinion among taxonomists about the rank of taxa. In addition, variation in the taxonomic contents of names did not become less with increased recognition of names. These findings argue against recent claims that taxonomists using rank-based nomenclature spontaneously settle on a consensus about the choice of taxon names. These results further indicate that rank-based nomenclature so far has failed to accomplish a reasonably stable association of taxonomic names and clades.

                These studies show that at species rank, there is a strong empirical basis for taxonomic (and hence nomenclatural) change. As a consequence, pleas for stability at the species level are unrealistic. However, at higher ranks, the empirical basis for nomenclatural change is weak, and thus attempts should be made to curb unnecessary nomenclatural instability (e.g. by adopting phylogenetic nomenclature). These results underscore that empirical studies of taxonomic practise may usefully inform theoretical debates.

  • 21.
    Sangster, George
    Leiden, The Netherlands.
    Genetic distance as a test of species boundaries in the Citril Finch Serinus citrinella: a critique and taxonomic reinterpretation.2000In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 142, no 3, p. 487-490Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 22.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    Increasing numbers of bird species result from taxonomic progress, not taxonomic inflation.2009In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8452, E-ISSN 1471-2954, Vol. 276, p. 3185-3191Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The impact and significance of modern taxonomy on other fields in biology have been subjects of much debate. It has been proposed that increasing numbers of vertebrate species are largely owing to ‘taxonomic inflation’. According to this hypothesis, newly recognized species result from reinterpretations of species limits based on phylogenetic species concepts (PSCs) rather than from new discoveries. Here, I examine 747 proposals to change the taxonomic rank of birds in the period 1950–2007. The trend to recognize more species of birds started at least two decades before the introduction of PSCs. Most (84.6%) newly recognized species were supported by new taxonomic data. Proposals to recognize more species resulted from application of all six major taxonomic criteria. Many newly recognized species (63.4%) were not based exclusively on PSC-based criteria (diagnosability, monophyly and exclusive coalescence of gene trees). Therefore, this study finds no empirical support for the idea that the increase in species is primarily epistemological rather than data-driven. This study shows that previous claims about the causes and effects of taxonomic inflation lack empirical support. I argue that a more appropriate term for the increase in species is ‘taxonomic progress’.

  • 23.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    Integrative taxonomy of birds: Studies into the nature, origin and delimitation of species2013Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Species are the basic currency in biodiversity studies but what constitutes a species has long been controversial. A major breakthough was the insight that most systematists agree that species are segments of population lineages, and that multiple lines of evidence should be employed and integrated, a procedure called integrative taxonomy. For this dissertation, I have studied integrative taxonomy from three angles. First, I address a series of influential claims about the nature and empirical basis of taxonomic change in birds. In Paper I, I show that taxonomic change is overwhelmingly data-driven. Thus, increasing numbers of species represent progress, not taxonomic inflation resulting from a change in species concept. In Paper II, I provide the first detailed quantitative analysis of how species are delimited in practice. This study shows that, contrary to widely held beliefs, avian taxonomy has not been dominated by the Biological Species Concept. Instead, species delimitation is increasingly pluralistic and eclectic. I argue that taxonomic practice is more unified than is implied by the controversy over species concepts. Integrative taxonomy can provide new insights into the speciation process. In Paper III, I show that two very different evolutionary patterns have been referred to by the term ‘ring species’ which are best distinguished using an integrative approach. Finally, two case studies of integrative taxonomy are presented. In Paper IV, we describe a new cryptic species of owl, the Rinjani Scops Owl (Otus jolandae), using evidence from plumage details, morphometrics, vocalizations and playback studies. Paper V presents a study of the evolutionary history of diversification in a widespread Indo-Pacific passerine, the Red-bellied Pitta (Erythropitta erythrogaster). Using molecular species delimitation methods and evidence from plumage details and morphometrics, we suggest that this species includes up to 17 species which originated during the Pleistocene

  • 24.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    Review of: Festschrift for Ned Johnson: Geographic variation and evolution in birds by C Cicero and J V Remsen.2008In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 150, p. 843-Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 25.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    Review of: Nightjars, Potoos, Frogmouths, Oilbord and Owlet-nightjars of the World by N. Cleere2012In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 154, no 1, p. 220-220Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 26.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    Review of: Owls of the World: a photographic guide by H. Mikkola.2013In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 155, no 3, p. 691-692Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 27.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    Review of: Systematic notes on Asian birds 2010 by D R Wells.2011In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 153, p. 452-453Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 28.
    Sangster, George
    University of Amsterdam.
    Taxonomic stability and avian extinctions2000In: Conservation Biology, ISSN 0888-8892, E-ISSN 1523-1739, Vol. 14, no 2, p. 579-581Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 29.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology. Swedish Museum of Natural History.
    The application of species criteria in avian taxonomy and its implications for the debate over species concepts2014In: Biological Reviews, ISSN 1464-7931, E-ISSN 1469-185X, Vol. 89, no 1, p. 199-214Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The debate over species concepts has produced a huge body of literature on how species can, may or should be delimited. By contrast, very few studies have documented how species taxa are delimited in practice. The aims of the present study were to (i) quantify the use of species criteria in taxonomy, (ii) discuss its implications for the debate over species concepts and (iii) assess recent claims about the impact of different species concepts on taxonomic stability and the ‘nature’ of species. The application of six species criteria was examined in taxonomic studies of birds published between 1950 and 2009. Three types of taxonomic studies were included: descriptions of new species (N=329), proposals to change the taxonomic rank of species and subspecies (N=808) and the taxonomic recommendations of the American Ornithologists’ Union Committee on Classification and Nomenclature (N=176). In all three datasets, diagnosability was the most frequently applied criterion, followed by reproductive isolation and degree of difference. This result is inconsistent with the popular notion that the Biological Species Concept is the dominant species concept in avian taxonomy. Since the 1950s, avian species-level taxonomy has become increasingly pluralistic and eclectic. This suggests that taxonomists consider different criteria as complementary rather than as rival approaches to species delimitation. Application of diagnosability more frequently led to the elevation of subspecies to species rank than application of reproductive isolation, although the difference was small. Hypotheses based on diagnosability and reproductive isolation were equally likely to be accepted in a mainstream checklist. These findings contradict recent claims that application of the Phylogenetic Species Concept causes instability and that broader application of the Biological Species Concept can stabilise taxonomy. The criteria diagnosability and monophyly, which are commonly associated with Phylogenetic Species Concepts, were used throughout the study period. Finally, no support was found for the idea that Phylogenetic Species Concepts have caused a change in the ‘nature’ of species taxa. This study demonstrates that there is a discrepancy between widely held perceptions of how species are delimited and the way species are actually delimited by taxonomists. Theoretically oriented debates over species concepts thus may benefit from empirical data on taxonomic practice.

  • 30.
    Sangster, George
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    The ring species concept revisitedManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Ring species may offer important insights into the role of isolation by distance in speciation. In recent years, the study of ring species has been revigorated by the application of phylogeographic methods. The concept of ring species, however, has received little attention since its original formulation in the first half of the twentieth century. A review of the two best-documented cases of putative ring species suggests that different evolutionary patterns have been referred to by the term ‘ring species’. These putative ring species share a circular colonization pattern but have fundamentally different evolutionary histories and patterns of geographic variation. Because these patterns cannot be explained by a single evolutionary model, a terminological distinction is warranted. It is suggested that the term ‘ring species’ be restricted to taxa which form a single evolutionary unit and in which the end-points have diverged as a result of isolation by distance. The new evolutionary term ‘taxon chain’ is suggested for a clade consisting of multiple evolutionary units separated by secondary contact zones. The study of ring species and taxon chains requires an integrative approach, including the description of geographic variation, phylogeographic study of historical divergence, assessment of gene flow, and study of interactions in contact zones.

  • 31. Sangster, George
    The taxonomic status of 'phylogroups' in the Parus teneriffae complex (Aves): Comments on the paper by Kvist et al. (2005)2006In: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, ISSN 1055-7903, E-ISSN 1095-9513, Vol. 38, no 1, p. 288-289Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 32.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    Alström, Per
    Forsmark, Emma
    Olsson, Urban
    Multi-locus phylogenetic analysis of Old World chats and flycatchers reveals extensive paraphyly at family, subfamily and genus level (Aves: Muscicapidae).2010In: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, ISSN 1055-7903, E-ISSN 1095-9513, Vol. 57, p. 380-392Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The chats and flycatchers (Muscicapidae) represent an assemblage of 275 species in 48 genera. Defining natural groups within this assemblage has been challenging because of its high diversity and a paucity of phylogenetically informative morphological characters. We assessed the phylogenetic relationships of 118 species and 34 genera of Muscicapidae, and 20 species of Turdidae, using molecular sequence data from one mitochondrial gene and three nuclear loci, in total 3240 bp. Bayesian and maximum likelihood analyses yielded a well-resolved tree in which nearly all basal nodes were strongly supported. The traditionally defined Muscicapidae, Muscicapinae and Saxicolinae were paraphyletic. Four major clades are recognized in Muscicapidae: Muscicapinae, Niltavinae (new family-group name), Erithacinae and Saxicolinae. Interesting relationships recovered by this analysis include: (i) a clade comprising the ‘blue’ flycatcher genera Niltava, Cyornis, Cyanoptila and Eumyias and some species of Rhinomyias; (ii) the position of Erithacus rubecula in a clade of otherwise exclusively African species; (iii) a close relationship between the shortwing Heinrichia calligyna and the flycatcher Rhinomyias insignis; (iv) a sister relationship between forktails Enicurus and whistling thrushes Myophonus; and (v) a sister relationship of Ficedula and the ‘chats’ Monticola, Phoenicurus, Saxicola and Oenanthe. A high number of traditionally defined genera was found to be paraphyletic or polyphyletic. Taxonomic implications are discussed.

  • 33.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden; Naturalis Biodiversity Center, The Netherlands.
    Alström, Per
    Forsmark, Emma
    Olsson, Urban
    Niltavinae, a new taxon of Old World flycatchers (Aves: Muscicapidae)2016In: Zootaxa, ISSN 1175-5326, E-ISSN 1175-5334, Vol. 4196, no 3, p. 428-429Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 34.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology. Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden.
    Collinson, J. Martin
    Crochet, Pierre-Andre
    Kirwan, Guy M.
    Knox, Alan G.
    Parkin, David T.
    Votier, Stephen C.
    Taxonomic recommendations for Western Palaearctic birds: 10th report2015In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 157, no 1, p. 193-200Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper is the tenth report of the Taxonomic Sub-Committee of the BOU Records Committee. Species-level decisions are based on criteria outlined by Helbig et al. (2002). The ninth report of the Sub-Committee was published by Sangster et al. (2013). Recommendations in this report fall into five categories: (i) recognition of higher taxa not recognised by Voous (Paroidea), (ii) changes in generic allocation (Melanocorypha leucoptera, Calandrella rufescens), (iii) changes in the taxonomic sequence of species (Alaudidae, Prunella), (iv) changes in species limits (Struthio camelus, Thalassarche cauta, Poecile lugubris, Phylloscopus tenellipes, Sylvia cantillans, Oenanthe lugens, Passer italiae), and (v) changes in nomenclature (Sylvia cantillans moltonii).

  • 35.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden.
    Collinson, J. Martin
    Crochet, Pierre-Andre
    Kirwan, Guy M.
    Knox, Alan G.
    Parkin, David T.
    Votier, Stephen C.
    Taxonomic recommendations for Western Palearctic birds: 11th report2016In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 158, no 1, p. 206-212Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 36.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    Collinson, J. Martin
    Crochet, Pierre-Andre
    Knox, Alan G.
    Parkin, David T.
    Votier, Stephen C.
    Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: eighth report2012In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 154, no 4, p. 874-883Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 37.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology. Swedish Museum of Natural History.
    Collinson, J. Martin
    Crochet, Pierre-Andre
    Knox, Alan G.
    Parkin, David T.
    Votier, Stephen C.
    Taxonomic recommendations for Western Palearcticbirds: ninth report2013In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 155, no 4, p. 898-907Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 38.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Stevenshof 17, 2312 GM Leiden, The Netherlands.
    Collinson, J Martin
    Helbig, Andreas J
    Knox, Alan G
    Parkin, David T
    Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: third report2005In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 147, no 4, p. 821-826Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 39.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    Collinson, J. Martin
    Knox, Alan G.
    Parkin, David T.
    Svensson, Lars
    Taxonomic recommendations for British birds, Sixth Report2010In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 152, p. 180-186Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 40.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    Collinson, Martin
    Crochet, Pierre-Andre
    Knox, Alan G.
    Parkin, David T.
    Svensson, Lars
    Votier, Stephen C.
    Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: seventh report2011In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 153, no 4, p. 883-892Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 41. Sangster, George
    et al.
    Collinson, Martin
    Knox, Alan G,
    Parkin, David T.
    Svensson, Lars
    Taxonomic recommendations for British birds, Fourth Report2007In: Ibis, ISSN 0019-1019, E-ISSN 1474-919X, Vol. 149, p. 853-857Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 42.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden.
    García-R, Juan Carlos
    Steve A., Trewick
    A new genus for the Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata Sundevall, 1850 (Aves, Rallidae)2015In: European Journal of Taxonomy, ISSN 2118-9773, Vol. 153, p. 1-8Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Molecular phylogenetic analysis has demonstrated that the genus Gallinula is not monophyletic and comprises four major lineages. A review of the nomenclature of Gallinula shows that generic names are available for three lineages but that a fourth is as yet unnamed. A new monotypic genus, Paragallinula gen. nov., is described for Lesser Moorhen (Gallinula angulata Sundevall, 1850).

  • 43.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    King, Ben F.
    Verbelen, Philippe
    Trainor, Colin R.
    A new owl species of the genus Otus (Aves: Strigidae) from Lombok, Indonesia2013In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 8, no 2, p. e53712-Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The avifauna of Indonesia is one of the richest in the World but the taxonomic status of many species remains poorly documented. The sole species of scops owl known from Lombok has long been assigned to the widespread Moluccan Scops Owl Otus magicus on the basis of superficial similarities in morphology. Field work in 2003 has shown that the territorial song of the scops owls inhabiting the foothills of Gunung Rinjani differs dramatically from that of O. magicus and is more similar to those of Rufescent Scops Owl O. rufescens and Singapore Scops Owl O. cnephaeus. Detailed comparisons of sound recordings and museum specimens with those of other scops owls in Wallacea and the Indo-Malayan region have confirmed the distinctiveness of the Lombok population. We describe Otus jolandae as a new species, the Rinjani Scops Owl. It is locally common at elevations from 25-1350 m and occurs within Gunung Rinjani National Park. The new species is known from seven specimens collected by Alfred Everett in 1896. Otus jolandae represents the first endemic bird species from Lombok.

  • 44.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden.
    Luksenburg, Jolanda A.
    Declining rates of species described per taxonomist: slowdown of progress or a side-effect of improved quality in taxonomy?2015In: Systematic Biology, ISSN 1063-5157, E-ISSN 1076-836X, Vol. 64, no 1, p. 144-151Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 45.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology. Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden.
    Rodríguez-Godoy, Felipe
    Roselaar, C. S.
    Robb, Magnus S.
    Luksenburg, Jolanda A.
    Integrative taxonomy reveals Europe’s rarest songbird species, the Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch Fringilla polatzeki2016In: Journal of Avian Biology, ISSN 0908-8857, E-ISSN 1600-048X, Vol. 47, no 2, p. 159-166Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The conservation of endangered taxa often critically depends on accurate taxonomic designations. The status of the Gran Canaria population of the Blue Chaffinch Fringilla t. polatzeki has not been reevaluated since the early 1900s when this taxon was described as a subspecies and combined with the much more common Tenerife Blue Chaffinch F. t. teydea in a single species. We show that multiple diagnostic differences in plumage, songs, calls and morphometrics distinguish F. t. polatzeki from F. t. teydea. Preliminary playback experiments suggest that F. t. polatzeki is able to discriminate between songs of both taxa. Along with previously reported differences in mitochondrial DNA, these findings show that the blue chaffinches on Gran Canaria and Tenerife represent two distinctive species: F. polatzeki and F. teydea. Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch is Europe’s rarest passerine species and should be classified as Critically Endangered. Its long-term survival in the wild currently depends on a very small (<20 km2) area in southwest Gran Canaria. Reclassification of Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch as a species increases the urgency of ongoing conservation efforts. Our study underscores the critical importance of taxonomic clarification of threatened taxa that are currently classified as ‘subspecies’.

  • 46.
    Sangster, George
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
    van den Berg, A.B.
    van Loon, A.J.
    Roselaar, C.S.
    Dutch avifaunal list: taxonomic changes in 2004-2008.2009In: Ardea, ISSN 0373-2266, E-ISSN 2213-1175, Vol. 97, p. 373-381Article in journal (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This is the third update on the taxonomy of species and higher taxa on the Dutch List since Voous (1977). It summarizes decisions made by the Commissie Systematiek Nederlandse Avifauna (CSNA) between Jan 2004 and Dec 2008. Changes in this report fall into five categories: (1) the sequence within and among some groups is changed to reflect their phylogenetic relationships (flamingos and grebes, eagles, shanks, gulls, terns, swallows and tits); (2) 20 scientific names are changed due to generic revisions (Aquila pennata, A. fasciata, Chroicocephalus genei, C. philadelphia, C. ridibundus, Hydrocoloeus minutus, Onychoprion anaethetus, Sternula albifrons, Hydroprogne caspia, Megaceryle alcyon, Cecropis daurica, Geokichla sibirica, Cyanistes caeruleus, Lophophanes cristatus, Periparus ater, Poecile montanus, P. palustris, Pastor roseus, Agropsar sturninus, Melospiza melodia); (3) two scientific names replace others presently on the list due to the recognition of extralimital taxa as species (Turdus eunomus, T. atrogularis); (4) one species is added because of a split from a species already on the Dutch List (Sylvia subalpina); (5) two species become monotypic due to the recognition of an extralimital taxon as species (Tarsiger cyanurus, Oenanthe pleschanka).

  • 47. Svensson, Lars
    et al.
    Collinson, J Martin
    Knox, Alan G
    Parkin, David T
    Sangster, George
    Species limits in the Red-breasted Flycatcher2005In: British Birds, ISSN 0007-0335, Vol. 98, no 10, p. 538-541Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [en]

    Traditionally, the Red-breasted Flycatcher [Ficedula parva] has been treated as a polytypic species with two subspecies: the western [parva] and the eastern [albicilla]. These taxa show clear differences in morphology and vocalisations and are diagnosably distinct, probably in both sexes and at all ages. There are striking differences in moult patterns between the two forms, and DNA-sequence data indicate that they are genetically divergent. It is clear that [parva] and [albicilla] are independent evolutionary lineages that are genetically distinct and fulfil the criteria for species recognition. It is recommended that they are treated as separate species, Red-breasted Flycatcher [F. parva] and Taiga Flycatcher [F. albicilla].

1 - 47 of 47
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