A re-appraisal of species diversity within the Australian grasswrens Amytornis (Aves: Maluridae)

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Christidis, L, Rheindt, FE, Boles, WE & Norman, JA 2013, 'A re-appraisal of species diversity within the Australian grasswrens Amytornis (Aves: Maluridae)', Australian Zoologist, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 429-437.

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The Australian grasswrens (Amytornis) comprise a genus of cryptically plumaged species inhabiting the arid regions of southern, western, central, and northern Australia. Isolated, fragmented populations characterise the distributional pattern of several species, whereas others appear to show ecophenotypic clinal variation in plumage patterns. These features have made the species-level taxonomy of the genus a matter of ongoing debate. We undertook qualitative considerations of morphological, biogeographical and ecological features in combination with quantitative DNA distance measures from published studies, to provide a comprehensive species level revision of Amytornis. In addition to the ten species recognised by Schodde and Mason (1999) (housei, textilis, goyderi, purnelli, ballarae, merrotsyi, woodwardi, dorotheae, striatus, barbatus), we also recognise as species the following: modestus, rowleyi, oweni and whitei. These fourteen species are placed into four subgenera: Amytornis, Magnamytis, Maluropsis and Cryptamytis subgen. nov. The latter subgenus is erected for A. merrotsyi. The potential impacts that this new taxonomy will have on the conservation status of the various taxa are canvassed.

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