Latest taxonomy news in lories and lorikeets

October 13th, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
Latest taxonomy news in lories and lorikeets

With introduction of molecular analysis the tree of life is becoming complete day by day. Especially in case of birds, recent research of their taxonomy is really intensive. However, there are still some groups where phylogenetic relationships remain unclear. One of them are lories and lorikeets (family Loriinae).

According to the latest HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World (2014), family Loriinae includes 61 species which is a lot more than suggested by previous authors. Whole “haematodus complex” was split to seven species. After a year, Schweizer et al. (2015) comes with a new molecular study which tries to reclassify identity of individual species on genus level.



According to latest research news, Dusky Lory should be closely related to Cardinal Lory. (c) Lubos Tomiska


What are their suggestions?

Suprisingly, they consider Whiskered Lorikeet as the oldest species of all lories, it should sit on the base of the phylogenetic tree of whole family.

Secondly, authors classify the Cardinal Lory as a member of Pseudeos genus, not Chalcopsitta as it used to be.

According to their results, Glossopsitta genus is not monofyletic and includes only the Musk Lorikeet. The rest – Little and Purple-crowned Lorikeets represent the re-estabilished genus Parvipsitta.

Charmosyna species should be very related to Vinies and Phygis. Latter two groups maybe represent the same genus Vini but this needs further research.



figure Schweizer

Phylogenetic tree from the molecular study of Schweizer et al. 2015. Schweizer, Manuel, et al. “Molecular phylogenetics suggests a New Guinean origin and frequent episodes of founder-event speciation in the nectarivorous lories and lorikeets (Aves: Psittaciformes).” Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 90 (2015): 34-48.


Should breeders respect these changes?

We have to realize that there is not just one perfect taxonomy. This is especially true in case of molecular studies because then results can differ a lot depending on chosen method and model. So generally, all news in taxonomy don’t have to be accepted without any objections. It’s very probable that different study would get very different results like it’s common in taxonomy of other animal groups. The problem is that there are not many scientists who work on serious research in lories. Schweizer et al. was one of the first authors who tried to make taxonomy in lories on species level. And that’s why there is not anyone to contradict it with different results.

So let’s wait what future research brings.


Title photo: (c) Lubomir Tomiska



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