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A new Myzomela honeyeater (Meliphagidae) from the highlands of Alor Island, Indonesia

Abstract

We here describe a new species of Myzomela honeyeater from the Lesser Sunda island of Alor (southeast Indonesia). The new species is phylogenetically most closely related to Myzomela kuehni from the adjacent island of Wetar and most closely resembles that species in plumage. However, it differs in important morphological, bioacoustic and ecological characteristics. The discovery of a new bird species on Alor is of great biogeographic importance and elevates this island to the status of an Endemic Bird Area. The new Alor Myzomela is restricted to montane eucalypt woodland mostly above 900 m elevation and is currently known from few sites across the island. Based on its occurrence records and human population trends in the highlands of Alor Island, we recommend classification under the IUCN threat status endangered.

Zusammenfassung

Eine neue Art von Honigfresser der Gattung Myzomela (Meliphagidae) aus dem Hochland der Alor Insel, Indonesien

In diesem Beitrag beschreiben wir eine neue Art von Honigfresser der Gattung Myzomela von der Kleinen Sunda-Insel Alor in Südost-Indonesien. Die neue Art ist phylogenetisch am engsten mit Myzomela kuehni von der danebengelegenen Insel Wetar verwandt, und ähnelt jener Art am meisten in Gefiederfärbung, unterscheidet sich jedoch auch in wichtigen morphologischen, bioakustischen und ökologischen Eigenschaften. Die Entdeckung einer neuen Vogelart auf Alor ist biogeografisch äußerst wichtig und erhebt den Status dieser Insel zu einem „Gebiet von Vogel-Endemismus“. Der neue Alor-Honigfresser ist auf eine Berg-Eukalyptus-Waldlandschaft oberhalb von 900 m Höhe beschränkt und ist derzeit von nur wenigen Lokalitäten auf der Insel bekannt. Aufgrund seines spärlichen Vorkommens und menschlicher Bevölkerungsentwicklungen in den Hochländern der Insel Alor empfehlen wir seine Klassifizierung unter dem IUCN-Bedrohungsstatus „stark gefährdet“.

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Acknowledgements

Thanks to Stijn Cooleman, James Eaton and Robert Hutchinson for providing recordings, and the late John Hornbuckle for providing field observations; and Matthew Shanley of the American Museum of Natural History for taking photographs of Wetar Myzomela specimens. PV wishes to thank Veerle Dossche for companionship in the field during his first visit in July 2009 and Hermolinda S. Kameglet and Charles J. Mallaka for their hospitality, allowing him to stay in their house at Apui (April 2014). FER, Suparno and HA are indebted to Pak Simeon from Manmas village and his family for their hospitality during their stay at Manmas. We wish to thank Hans Matheve for editing and preparing sonograms and Rohan Fisher for providing data on the extent of habitat on Alor. We thank the Indonesian Institute of Science (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia-LIPI) and the local forestry authorities (BKSDA) for providing permits to conduct field work and collection. The Ministry of Research and Higher Education of the Republic of Indonesia issued the research permit No: 9/TKPIPA/E5/Dit.KI/IX/2015 on 9 September 2015 to FER for the main field work. The Research Centre for Biology-LIPI was the official sponsor of this research. FER acknowledges funding from a Singaporean Ministry of Education Tier 2 grant (R-154-000-A59-112).

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Correspondence to Frank E. Rheindt.

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Irham, M., Ashari, H., Suparno et al. A new Myzomela honeyeater (Meliphagidae) from the highlands of Alor Island, Indonesia. J Ornithol 161, 313–324 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-019-01722-2

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Keywords

  • Myzomela
  • Honeyeater
  • Alor
  • Wetar
  • Plumage
  • Bioacoustics
  • Ecological characteristics
  • Novel species