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JOSEPH, L., MERWIN, J. & SMITH, B.T. (2020)

Improved systematics of lorikeets reflects their evolutionary history and frames conservation priorities.

Emu - Austral Ornithology 120 (3): 201–215. doi:10.1080/01584197.2020.1779596. S2CID 222094508.

Abstract:

A well-supported genus-level classification of any group of organisms underpins downstream understanding of its evolutionary biology and enhances the role of phylogenetic diversity in guiding its conservation and management. The lorikeets (Psittaciformes: Loriini) are parrots for which genus-level systematics (phylogenetic relationships and classification) has long been unstable and unsatisfactory. Instability has manifested through frequently changing compositions of some genera (e.g. Trichoglossus and Psitteuteles). Other genera (e.g. Charmosyna, Vini) have become so large that their phenotypic heterogeneity alone at least questions whether they are monophyletic assemblages that genera should comprise. Recent molecular phylogenetic and phenotypic studies have improved the framework with which to rationalise genus-level systematics in lorikeets but some trenchant uncertainty has remained. Here we utilise published genomic data and tetrahedral analysis of plumage colour to develop a full review of the genus-level classification of lorikeets. Using existing phylogenetic relationships and a newly estimated time-calibrated tree for lorikeets, we show where paraphyletic assemblages have misled the classification of genera. We assign six species to three new genera and six other species to four previously described generic names that have been in synonymy in recent literature. Our taxonomic revision brings a new perspective informing and guiding the conservation and management of the lorikeets and their evolutionary biology.

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