RESEARCHERS FROM DUBLIN’S Trinity College have discovered a new species of bird on a chain of islands off Indonesia.
The group of zoologists made the discovery of the previously unrecognised bird, which they are proposing be called the Wakatobi flowerpecker, after the group of islands it was found on.
Despite looking similar to the grey-sided flowerpecker from mainland Sulawesi, Wakatobi flowerpeckers are significantly larger and genetically distinct.
The genetic data from the Trinity study revealed that the two flowerpecker species did not mix or interbreed, which in turn suggests that they do not cross the 27km stretch of ocean between them.
These findings, just published in the open access journal PLOS ONE, suggest that the lack of research and particular absence of genetic analyses performed on similar birds has likely led to a significant underestimation of the number of species in the Sulawesi region.
This means there are many more bird species awaiting description and the zoologists are calling for more detailed study of the bird populations in the beautiful and under-explored Sulawesi region as a result.
Lead author of the journal article, and PhD student in Zoology at Trinity, Seán Kelly said that the discovery of new species has an impact on human life.
Accurate data on the distribution and status of bird species are regularly used to inform conservation practices and industrial development.
“As humans are changing the natural environments of Sulawesi at an incredibly fast rate, the discovery and description of species in the region is of major importance,”