Wednesday, November 26, 2014

[Ornithology • 2014] Muscicapa sodhii | Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher • A New Species of Muscicapa Flycatcher from Sulawesi, Indonesia

Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa sodhii, whose discovery has just been confirmed 15 years after the first sighting in Indonesia, is distinguished by its mottled throat and short wings.
Photo by Martin Lindop | DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112657.g001


The Indonesian island of Sulawesi, a globally important hotspot of avian endemism, has been relatively poorly studied ornithologically, to the extent that several new bird species from the region have been described to science only recently, and others have been observed and photographed, but never before collected or named to science. One of these is a new species of Muscicapa flycatcher that has been observed on several occasions since 1997. We collected two specimens in Central Sulawesi in 2012, and based on a combination of morphological, vocal and genetic characters, we describe the new species herein, more than 15 years after the first observations. The new species is superficially similar to the highly migratory, boreal-breeding Gray-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa griseisticta, which winters in Sulawesi; however, the new species differs strongly from M. griseisticta in several morphological characters, song, and mtDNA. Based on mtDNA, the new species is only distantly related to M. griseisticta, instead being a member of the M. dauurica clade. The new species is evidently widely distributed in lowland and submontane forest throughout Sulawesi. This wide distribution coupled with the species' apparent tolerance of disturbed habitats suggests it is not currently threatened with extinction.

Figure 1. Muscicapa sodhii (sp. nov.; Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher; upper left and center)
in comparison to M. dauurica williamsoni (Asian Brown [Brown-streaked] Flycatcher; upper right), M. s. sibirica (Dark-sided Flycatcher; lower right), and M. griseisticta (Gray-streaked Flycatcher; lower left).
Original painting by Teo Nam Siang. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112657.g001

Etymology: The new species is named in honor of the late Professor Navjot S. Sodhi (1962–2011) for his monumental contributions to conservation biology and ornithology in Southeast Asia. Dr. Sodhi played a leading role in elucidating the effects of habitat disturbance on biodiversity, especially birds, across Southeast Asia. This research provided a fundamental understanding of the ecology of Southeast Asian forests and critical information required for conservation planning. In addition, Dr. Sodhi was an outstanding mentor for many students including D.L.Y. and J.B.C.H. for whom he was an honours and doctorate supervisor, respectively. The English name recognizes the endemic distribution of the species, with the descriptive term “Streaked” to avoid possible confusion with other endemic Sulawesi flycatchers.

J. Berton C. Harris, Pamela C. Rasmussen, Ding Li Yong, Dewi M. Prawiradilaga, Dadang Dwi Putra, Philip D. Round and Frank E. Rheindt. A New Species of Muscicapa Flycatcher from Sulawesi, Indonesia. PLoS ONE. 9(11): e112657. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112657.g001