Monday, January 8, 2018

[Ornithology • 2017] Myzomela irianawidodoae • A Colourful New Species of Myzomela Honeyeater from Rote Island in eastern Indonesia

Myzomela irianawidodoae
Prawiradilaga, Baveja, Suparno, Ashari, Ng, Gwee, Verbelen & Rheindt, 2017

 photo:  Philippe Verbelen 

The avifauna of Rote Island in the Lesser Sundas is not well studied and generally considered to be similar to that of adjacent Timor Island. However, some cases of bird endemism have recently been documented on this island. A population of Myzomela honeyeater is one such example. First observed in October 1990, it has been subsumed with Myzomela dammermani from Sumba Island given its superficially similar appearance. Based on extensive morphological inspection and bioacoustic analysis, we here describe this population as a new taxon to science. Apart from previously overlooked plumage distinctions, the new taxon bioacoustically differs from M. dammermani in the presence or absence of several unique call types and considerable differences across two parameters in shared call types. Considering the importance of bioacoustics in avian species delimitation, we propose that the new Rote Myzomela be considered a distinct species. Given continued habitat conversion across its small range, we propose the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat status Vulnerable for the species.

Key words: bird, Lesser Sundas, Myzomela, new species, Rote Island

Male ‘Rote Myzomela’ Myzomela irianawidodoae sp. nov., near Bolatena village, Rote Island, East Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia, April 2014.

Figure 1. Map showing distribution of a select group of Myzomela taxa with a similar morphology.
A – Sumba Myzomela M. dammermani (Sumba Island; turquoise), B – the newly-described Rote Myzomela [Myzomela irianawidodoae] (Rote Island; red), C – Timor Myzomela M. vulnerata (Timor Island; dark blue), D – Banda Myzomela M. boiei (Banda Island arc and Tanimbar Islands; pink), E –Red-headed Myzomela M. erythrocephala (coastal Australia and Papua, Aru Islands; yellow).

Myzomela irianawidodoae, species nova
English name: Rote Myzomela
Indonesian name: Myzomela Rote

Etymology: We are pleased to name this species after Iriana Widodo, the current First Lady of the Republic of Indonesia, to recognise her keen interest in Indonesia’s birdlife and her valuable stewardship and advocacy for Indonesia’s natural environments.


Dewi Malia Prawiradilaga, Pratibha Baveja, Suparno, Hidayat Ashari, Nathaniel Sheng Rong Ng, Chyi Yin Gwee, Philippe Verbelen and Frank Erwin Rheindt. 2017.    A Colourful New Species of Myzomela Honeyeater from Rote Island in eastern Indonesia. Treubia. 44; 77-100.

Philippe Verbelen, Colin R. Trainor, Veerle Dossche and Rohan P. Fisher. 2017. Rote Island, East Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia: an emerging hotspot of avian endemism. BirdingAsia. 27; 57-73.

Description d'une nouvelle espèce d'oiseau en Indonésie, le Myzomèle de Rote (d'Iriana Widodo) | 

The discovery of Myzomela irianawidodoae — named after Indonesia’s first lady, Iriana Joko Widodo — involved a series of separate field studies between 1990 and 2015 by different groups of researchers, according to a paper published Dec. 31, 2017, in the scientific journal Treubia.

Meet Indonesia’s new honeyeater species from Rote Island via @Mongabay