Gull Taxonomy

Gull Taxonomy

Not sure this is really directly related to ID, but since we don't have a taxonomy rubric...

Maybe quite a few of you had already come across this as it comes from a British Ornithologists' Union press release of 5 December, but their current 'official' view of large white-headed gulls systematics is given in the following statement:

"The latest (fourth) report of the Taxonomic Sub-committee of the BOU Records Committee has finally recognised American Herring Gull and Caspian Gull at the species level.

The report states:

"We recommend recognition of the following species to better reflect recent advances in knowledge of the evolution and systematics of large gulls:

• Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans (monotypic)
• Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus (polytypic, including fuscus, intermedius, graellsii, heuglini, taimyrensis, barabensis)
• American Herring Gull Larus smithsonianus (polytypic, including smithsonianus, vegae, mongolicus)
• Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis (polytypic, including michahellis, atlantis)
• Armenian Gull Larus armenicus (monotypic)
• Herring Gull Larus argentatus (polytypic, including argentatus, argenteus)""

In HK we'd thus have Lesser Black-backed Gull taimyrensis [+claims (?) of heuglini and barabensis), American Herring Gull mongolicus [+ claims (?) of vegae and smithsonianus (or was that never actually claimed?)]  - quite an evolution from the Herring Gulls that we had when I arrived on the HK scene quite a few years back.

Merry Christmas to all my readers,

Mike Turnbull.