Sunday, March 20, 2016

Another South Australian Ground Parrot specimen

Above is a South Australian Ground Parrot specimen from the Liverpool Museum collection. In 1911 North split the Eastern and Western Ground Parrots into two species: Pezoporus wallicus and Pezoporus flaviventris . One of the taxonomic differences was broken barring across the chest and abdomen, supposed to occur in the Western birds only. Later, Ford (1968), showed that this and other differences were not consistent and the earlier classification of the same species right across Australia was reinstated with the birds of east and west having only a varietal dilineation: Pezoporus wallicus wallicus and Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris. Now, the first genetic analysis appears to indicate a full split into separate species is appropriate. See previous posting.

Photo supplied by Liverpool Museum and used with permission.

A Western Ground Parrot captured in 1988 as part of a radio-tracking project to study habitat use, in what later became part of Fitzgerald River National Park. This bird was later deduced to be a female, by comparison with sexed skins.
The South Australian Ground Parrot specimen from Liverpool Museum collection. This bird's beak appears very similar to that of the Western Australian bird above.

It is not known when the South Australian bird was collected, but the collector was recorded as Peele, and the skin was purchased by the Liverpool Museum in 1896 from Henry Baker Tristram. Before that it had been in the Singapore Museum. Henry Tristram was a Canon, an explorer, and an avid ornithologist. He was an early developer of ornithology as a science, an avid collector, a supporter of Darwin's Theory of evolution, and a founding member of the British Ornithological Union.

Photo supplied by Liverpool Museum and used with permission.
Reference: Ford, Julian. (1968). 'Distribution and taxonomic notes on some parrots from Western Australia.' South Australian Ornithologist, Volume 25, pp99-105.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

South Australian Ground Parrot

South Australia no longer has Ground Parrots. At times, the South Australian birds have been considered closer to the Western Australian birds or perhaps part of a continuum across the continent. However the most recent study (Murphy et al. 2010) and the first using mitochondrial DNA analysis, places South Australian birds with the other Eastern States birds, and equally divergent from the Western Australian birds. It is likely that this separation of eastern and western populations occurred approximately 2 million years ago, probably caused by 'the onset of aridity in the median area'.

The actual specimen used in the genetic study was the specimen shown below which is held in the South Australian Museum. The photos were provided by the museum, and are used with permission.

Label: Swamp Parrot. snared with a loop snare  in the Reedy Field Reed beds S.A. by Tommy the Black Fellow in the lakes end of 1850 and preserved by Mr Wm White. 
to S.A. White (Different handwriting).

Reference: Murphy SA, Joseph L, Burbidge AH, Austin J (2010)A cryptic and critically endangered species revealed by mitochondrial DNA analyses: the Western Ground Parrot. Conservation Genetics. D01 10.1007/s10592-010-0161-1